Adbert Alzolay, whose 2022 season has been plagued by shoulder and lat injuries, will at last make his season debut for the Cubs, as he’s been activated by the team today. It’s been nearly a full calendar year since he last pitched in the major leagues, two innings against the Cardinals October 1, 2021.
The Cubs, for reasons I cannot fathom, keep trying Alzolay as a starter. In his rehab assignment this season, he has made five starts (one with the Arizona Complex League Cubs, four for Triple-A Iowa). He’s peaked at 54 pitches in one outing and thrown more than 50 three other times.
Gonna say this right here and now. Continuing to try to make Alzolay a starter is a mistake. He keeps getting hurt. Also, trying him as a long reliever/spot starter is also a mistake. He’d going to get hurt again if the Cubs do that.
They should try him as a setup man the rest of the year and then as a closer in 2023. He’s clearly got the stuff for it — he could probably tick up a couple miles per hour as a closer — and throwing one inning three times a week is, in my view, the best way to keep Alzolay healthy and productive.
Per this Tribune article, the team does plan on using him out of the pen:
“It’s a luxury to try to match him up out of the pen,” Ross said. “He’s had a whole year to rehab and develop. I’ve been reading all the reports and he said he feels as great as he has in a long time.
“I know he’s constantly trying to evolve. We’re an organization that tries to make guys better. So I’m just going to let him get up here and show us what he can do without a whole lot of expectations.”
But then the article goes on to say he might be used as a multi-inning reliever as Keegan Thompson was earlier this year.
Here’s what I think: Alzolay turns 28 in March, he’s no longer young, so 2023 is his time to finally establish himself as a MLB pitcher. It should be as a closer.
To make room for Alzolay on the 28-man and 40-man rosters, Frank Schwindel and Sean Newcomb were designated for assignment.
Here are today’s other roster moves: