I don’t know about you, but I think the Cubs have found a member of their 2023 starting rotation.
Just how good Hayden Wesneski will be in his MLB career remains to be seen, of course, but he was dazzling in his first MLB start, throwing seven innings and allowing three hits and a run.
This sums things up for me regarding Wesneski:
Hayden Wesneski was brilliant today. All 3 hits and the run allowed were basebally nonsense.— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) September 17, 2022
Think about it, Matt Clapp is right. Wesneski retired the first Rockies hitter, then Yonathan Daza lined a ball just fair down the right field line that bounced into the seats for an automatic double. Then Wesneski retired the next 16 Rockies in a row before Ryan McMahon hit a ball that Zach McKinstry nearly made a great play for an out, but it wound up an infield single.
In the seventh, C.J. Cron hit another ball just fair down the RF line for yet another automatic double, and one out later this “basebally nonsense” happened [VIDEO].
Two bad throws were made during that sequence, but no error was charged, because that was basically a fielder’s choice that allowed the tying run to score. Wesneski got out of the rest of that inning for a stellar first MLB start. He’s certainly earned the chance for more of those this year.
I mentioned that was the tying run. Here’s the sequence on which the Cubs took the lead, in the fifth. Ian Happ singled with one out and one out later, Alfonso Rivas singled him to third. Rivas took second on the throw into the infield, so runners were on second and third for P.J. Higgins.
If that ball gets through, two runs score and Higgins is still on first. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and after Happ scored, Rivas tried to score and was thrown out.
Could have been significant later in the game, but we’ll never know.
What I do know about later in the game is this: I wish, fervently, that the Cubs would stop thinking about Adbert Alzolay as a multi-inning reliever. He made his season debut in this game and struck out the first three hitters he faced, retiring the side in order in the eighth. That took 19 pitches, several of which hit 97 on the Wrigley pitch speed meter. That’s good!
So why send him out for the ninth? He clearly didn’t have it, walking the second batter he faced in the ninth and then allowing a long triple into the corner by Charlie Blackmon that made it 2-1 Rockies, and then a single by Elias Diaz made it 3-1. Sure, Alzolay then struck out two more Rockies to end the inning — but no more 97, his velocity was around 93-94 by the time the ninth ended. If he hadn’t struck out Eleuris Montero to end the inning, Jeremiah Estrada was going to enter the game.
Alzolay threw 41 pitches. In my opinion, that’s way too many for him for one outing. He should be a one-inning guy — that way, perhaps a future closer. Perhaps you disagree, but that’s how I see it. He sees it that way too, incidentally:
Alzolay struck out 5 in 2-inning return from injured list. Allowed 2 runs in 9th inning (walk, triple, single), but all things considered, good to see the pitcher back.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 17, 2022
He's open to relief in '23, if needed.
"That allows the team to go and be aggressive during the offseason."
The Cubs did get the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth after Yan Gomes singled with one out, but McKinstry flied to left and Happ grounded out and that, as they say, was that.
Alzolay and new infielder Esteban Quiroz (who pinch-hit and struck out in his MLB debut in the ninth) make 64 players who have been Cubs this year. Barring some sort of injury or COVID outbreak (which we hope doesn’t happen), they’re not going to challenge the record of 69, set last year.
The day, though, belonged to Wesneski despite the loss; that was one of the best starts by any Cub in 2022. I mean... look at this pitch!
Hayden Wesneski, White Castle Special. pic.twitter.com/ZkcyK5AGtv— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 17, 2022
The Cubs will go for the series win Sunday at Wrigley Field. Javier Assad will start for the Cubs and Ryan Feltner will go for the Rockies. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.
For the Cubs in 2023, Adbert Alzolay should be...
This poll is closed
... a one-inning reliever and possible closer
... a multi-inning reliever and spot starter
... a member of the starting rotation
Something else (leave in comments)