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Royals 10, Cubs 2: The Adbert Alzolay conundrum

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The Cubs still aren’t sure where the Venezuelan-born righthander will wind up this year.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs have a dilemma regarding Adbert Alzolay, and it isn’t all under team control.

I’ll explain, but first I’ll tell you that the Cubs lost to the Royals 10-2, which is largely irrelevant. It appears, incidentally, that it was warmer in Chicago this afternoon (58 degrees) than it was at this game (56 degrees at first pitch).

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to this two-run homer by Ildemaro Vargas, who is looking like he might turn into a decent bench player:

Alzolay had a pretty good first inning. He got two easy outs, then allowed a couple of baserunners but got out of the inning after a mound visit. His second inning wasn’t nearly as good. First, he served up a long home run to former Cub Jorge Soler:

Then Alzolay got in trouble thanks to some sketchy defense by Willson Contreras, who let a wild pitch get by, then made a throwing error on a stolen-base attempt that allowed two runs to score.

Alzolay was lifted with two out in the second inning. It really doesn’t appear to me that he’s going to make the rotation, but I doubt the Cubs want him to be the swingman doing both bullpen and starting duty either.

Alzolay’s status could be decided as the result of a case regarding service time currently before an arbitrator:

Major League Baseball and the union must agree with the teams that last season’s shortened schedule does not count as a full season because it falls shy of the required 90 days. That decision, which is before an arbiter along with other service time disputes, is expected in mid-March, according to an MLB official.

If the arbitrator rules that 2020 doesn’t count as a “full season,” a number of players will be eligible for a fourth option year. One of those players is Alzolay. If that’s the case, I would think the Cubs would likely option him. He’d probably start the year at the alternate site to get regular work in and eventually head to Triple-A Iowa once the minor league season begins in early May. Teams need clarity on this soon. The linked article says “mid-March,” which is pretty much... now.

I’d love for Alzolay to succeed, but for now, he appears to need more work.

Anyway, Dillon Maples, who relieved Alzolay, looked like he might get out of the third with no runs, but he allowed a long double by Soler that scored Salvador Perez to make it 4-2. Maples is out of options and must either make the Opening Day bullpen or be exposed to waivers. I have always liked Maples but he might be running out of chances.

None of the other Cubs pitchers in this game will be anywhere near the Opening Day roster, as they were all in the first round of roster cuts on Friday. Collectively, they wound up giving up four more runs — two off Kohl Stewart in the fourth, another off Stewart in the fifth (home run by Nick Pratto) and three more off Michael Rucker in the sixth including a long home run. Eventually David Ross had mercy on Rucker and flipped the inning.

I wouldn’t be concerned about any of that.

As is the case for many games across the valley this spring, few regulars made the trip, instead doing their work in a “B” game at Sloan Park. Here’s some info and video from that game:

Sunday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to take on Joe Maddon’s Angels. Trevor Williams will start for the Cubs and Dylan Bundy will go for the Angels. Game time — reminder, Daylight Saving time starts tonight — will be 3:05 p.m. CT. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (Pat Hughes on the TV call) and the game will also be on 670 The Score (Zach Zaidman on the radio call).