After tonight’s Cubs win over the White Sox, Cubs manager Joe Maddon announced that the Cubs would promote right-handed pitcher Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa. Left-handed reliever Tim Collins was designated for assignment.
Alzolay has been the Cubs top pitching prospect for the past two seasons. He was on track for a promotion to Chicago last summer until he suffered a lat injury at the end of May. He got off to a late start in Spring Training this year and did not make his season debut until May 12. But since returning to the Iowa rotation, he’s been outstanding. He’s made six starts and has gone 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA. Alzolay has struck out 46 batters and walked only six over 32 innings in Triple-A. He’s gone at least five innings and allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last five starts.
The 24-year-old Alzolay was signed by the Cubs out of Venezuela in 2013. He started as a very raw pitcher who struggled with control in the lower levels of the Cubs minors. But he started turning things around in 2017 when the Cubs sped up his work rate on the mound. You will find very few pitchers in the major leagues who take less time between pitches than Alzolay does.
Alzolay combines a 92-96 mph fastball with a much improved curveball. He also has a solid changeup. As this article by Tommy Birch in The Des Moines Register explains, Alzolay spent his time on the injured list last season studying Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez. The results have been that he’s been attacking the strike zone better and he’s shown improved control and command inside the zone. In his last start against Fresno, Alzolay struck out nine batters and did not walk any of them over six innings of work.
Maddon said that Alzolay would back up starter Tyler Chatwood in Thursday’s contest against the Mets.
From that picture above you may notice that Alzolay does stick his tongue out when he pitches.
Collins has pitched 7⅔ innings for the Cubs over eight relief appearances this year. He’s struck out four batters, walked three and posted a 3.52 ERA.