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2023 Cubs player profiles: Adbert Alzolay

23rd in a series. No. 73 took a while to get to Wrigley but he’s here to stay. Maybe one day he’ll be the closer. He’d like that.

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Venezuelan native Adbert Marcelo Alzolay isn’t a spring chicken any more. At age 28, he’s finally settling into an effective role on the Cubs’ pitching staff, as a multi-inning reliever, capable of entering the game at any point.

He’s 1-3 so far this year but that’s no measure of his effectiveness, it’s just documenting his few failures, as he has been good for a 2.66 ERA (through Tuesday) with one save, in 18 games, in which he has pitched 23.2 innings and struck out 22 batters.

He has a lot of value for the Cubs, who at their best also have Keegan Thompson filling the same sort of role as big-bore weapons out of the pen.

Alzolay is one of those people that always manifest a lot of positivity — his Twitter feed is full of Norman Vincent Peale sentiment no matter what situations he’s been in professionally and life-wise, but he rarely if ever crosses over into Pollyannahood. He’s just projecting an UP personality, not unlike Christopher Morel.

It’s easy to like his attitude, and now it’s easy to like the way he throws the ball. He was 5-13 the year he had a lot of starts (2021), with a high 4.58 ERA, as he was repeatedly taken deep, to the tune of 25 home runs, most of which were clubbed by left-handers.

He spent most of 2022 in Triple-A, when he was healthy, re-inventing himself, and was effective in the few innings he tossed in MLB, to the tune of a 0.825 WHIP in a small sample of 23⅔ innings. Clearly that stratagem worked, and he’s even better this year, sporting a 0.930 WHIP. He doesn’t issue many free passes and all indications are that he will continue to grow into his role and become one of the anchors of an effective ‘pen. He might grow into a closer spot — certainly Adbert has that potential.

He throws five pitches, a four-seam fastball in the mid-nineties, a slider, cutter, curve, and a changeup. He throws about 40 percent fastballs, 35 percent sliders, and mixes in the others, using the change chiefly to baffle left-handed hitters. The fastball is a plus and the slider is a plus-plus, with the other pitches being approximately average.

Alzolay said he is still working on honing a version of his changeup, especially against lefty batters, in an effort to better “split the plate” with his cutter and slider. He has also been “playing around with” a sweeper slider, but he is trying to get the velocity into the 82-83 mph range to maximize horizontal movement. — Jordan Bastian.

Adbert Alzolay makes the MLB minimum salary, is on a one-year deal, and is arb-eligible, under Cubs control, through 2026. He becomes a UFA in 2027. Unless he is dealt away, he’ll be on the mound every other day or so in all kinds of leveraged situations.

Alzolay is open to anything David Ross has in mind.

“Late in the game or as a long guy, it doesn’t matter,” Alzolay said. “I just have to find a routine where I feel comfortable and I’m not doing too much before coming out of the bullpen and getting into the game.” — ibid.

Over the winter, he was reunited with his family after half a decade. That has to to a little with his current comfort, I’d have to say. There’s a nice interview with Alzolay and his wife if you click the link.

Thanks for reading.