‘Huge step forward’ for Adbert Alzolay in Cubs rotation
Adbert Alzolay was cruising.
Facing the Brewers for the second straight start to begin the 2021 season, the young Cubs right-hander was in complete control for most of Monday night’s game in Milwaukee.
As he took the ball for the bottom of the 6th in a tight 1-0 game, Alzolay gave up a single through the shift, walked a batter and then allowed another single. He induced a ground ball to get the runner at home and that was it for his evening.
A few batters later, the Brewers suddenly had 6 runs and carried that one big inning to a 6-3 victory.
The result may not have been what Alzolay or the Cubs wanted, but he felt it was an important step in his development.
“To be honest, my anxiety was through the roof at that moment,” Alzolay said. “I don’t remember the last time I was out there as a starting pitcher throwing in the 6th inning. I feel for me it was a huge step forward that I was able to keep my pitch count down, have the opportunity to go out there for the 6th inning. A little tired at the end but I feel that we’re building from that, so I’ll take it.”
Alzolay is right — it’s been a while since he pitched into the 6th inning as a starter. He last turned the trick June 14, 2019 with Triple-A Iowa and he has never accomplished the feat in the big leagues.
Prior to that 6th inning, Alzolay had faced the minimum and permitted just 1 hit while striking out 6, showcasing his nasty off-speed repertoire:
After he came out of the game, Alzolay was seen on the Marquee Sports Network broadcast chatting with his mentor, Jake Arrieta, in the Cubs dugout.
“We were just talking about baseball,” Alzolay said. “We were talking about how everything is coming together now, how I’m feeling more like my old self on the mound now, getting those repetitions out there.
“He was telling me that that’s the way you’re supposed to do it. We were talking about different things like my pregame routine and all that.”
Alzolay felt a big key to his performance tonight was throwing first pitch strikes and staying ahead in the count.
The 26-year-old right-hander is a big part of the Cubs future as a homegrown pitcher who could impact the rotation for years to come.
Monday was another example of why the organization is so high on his potential.
“I think he pitched great tonight,” David Ross said. “This is who he thinks he is; this is who he believes he is. We saw a really good version of him tonight. I think that’s what we expect.
“He was dominant. Executing fastball command with the slider off that, I just thought he looked really clean tonight and that was nice to see.”