Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher Adbert Alzolay, the top prospect in the Cubs organization according to MLB Pipeline, will miss the remainder of the 2018 season due to a lat injury.
The announcement was made official by Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer on Friday.
Alzolay sustained his injury pitching against the New Orleans Baby Cakes for the Iowa Cubs at the Triple-A level in a May 29 start. He pitched 4.0 perfect innings in the start with three strikeouts, but had to leave the game when the discomfort became prevalent. He had been resting the lat at the Cubs’ spring training complex in Arizona, but his health overall wasn’t improving, making the decision to shut him down easier.
Cubs vice president of scouting/player development Jason McLeod told the Chicago Tribune last week that Alzolay was ‘close’ to being promoted to the Major League level prior to his injury, and it’s likely that Alzolay would’ve joined the Cubs rotation right from the start had he been promoted.
Luckily for the Cubs, they have depth at the Major League level in their rotation as is. Jon Lester is having a bounce-back season to lead the way, while Mike Montgomery has posted a 1.14 earned run average as a starter in four starts filling in for Yu Darvish, who went on the disabled list in May with right triceps tendinitis.
Darvish, who was signed to a six-year contract worth $126 million that contained an opt-out following the 2019 season over the winter, has struggled as a Cub so far, but had an encouraging start against the Cincinnati Reds in his last start on May 20, as he went 6.0 innings and yielded just one earned run.
While Alzolay certainly wouldn’t have taken Darvish’s place in the rotation, it’s likely that he would’ve taken Tyler Chatwood‘s. Chatwood was another off-season signing for the Cubs, but has struggled with his command majorly so far, as his 58 walks leads all Major League qualified pitchers by a wide margin.
Instead of having Alzolay to fall back on, the Cubs will likely just have to hope Chatwood can figure out his control issues on the fly and in between starts. Montgomery has likely earned a permanent stay in the Cubs rotation, meaning that the rotation will be Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Darvish, and Montgomery once Darvish returns, meaning a move to the bullpen could be in-order for Chatwood.
Chicago is also set to have left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly return from Tommy John surgery at some point this summer, which means he could be likely to take Montgomery’s old role in the Cubs bullpen which was a long reliever/swing man type of role.
Alzolay had a 4.76 earned run average and 27 strikeouts in 39.2 innings at Triple-A this season.
Photo: Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs