Signs of growth from Adbert Alzolay in strong outing against White Sox
When it comes to Adbert Alzolay’s development process in becoming a big-league starter, David Ross is trying to take more of a macro look at his growth rather than a micro view.
“I don’t think it’s fair if we judge every outing of ‘OK, it was great or it was bad,’” Ross said prior to Saturday’s game against the White Sox. “He’s getting his first full season under his belt in the big-league level.”
One theme Ross and the Cubs are looking at in his development is how he performs against lefties. Entering Saturday’s contest, left-handed hitters had a 1.022 OPS against him with 19 home runs. That’s a stark contrast to his splits against righties, who have hit just 4 home runs and are hitting .184 against him.
“The league’s adjusted to him, he has to continue to adjust back to what the hitters are trying to do,” Ross said. “I think he’s done a really nice job of continuing to go out and compete.”
In Saturday’s outing, Alzolay showed both mental growth and improvement against lefties. He battled back from a tough 1st inning where he allowed 2 runs, pitching 5.2 shutout innings after that. He finished the day striking out 7 over 6.2 innings, walking none and allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits. It was the first outing of his career in which he didn’t allow a home run or walk.
“Overall I think today it’s been the best day I’ve had feeling for all my pitches,” Alzolay said. “I feel like my mechanics, my delivery, everything was on seam today.”
He used his slider and changeup to stymie lefties, too. The White Sox lefties were just 4-for-17 with 5 strikeouts against him and were 0-for-5 in at-bats that ended against his changeup. One of those 4 hits was a soft, infield single and another was a double off the glove of Ian Happ in right field. The development of that pitch, along with his two-seamer, will be crucial for Alzolay in his development against lefties.
“I feel that now, all the work that we were putting in behind the scenes has been paying off,” Alzolay said. “I feel the way that we were mixing our pitches, the sinker, the four-seam, the changeup, the back-door slider against the lefties it was pretty good, it allowed me to set up for the changeup late in the count.”
He’s shown flashes of success with the changeup. He struck out Juan Soto in his last outing in Washington D.C. on his changeup that locked him up. But Saturday, he showed how effective it can be against left-handed hitters.
“I think when you put in a lot of hard work and have some struggles and you’re trying to make some adjustments as the league adjusts to you, it’s nice to put the work in and see results,” Ross said. “I think that’s a really quality performance from him and something he can build off and a really nice job of continuing to put the work in and see results.
“That’s always a positive.”