The Adbert Alzolay show will roll on next week in Pittsburgh.
Friday, the Cubs announced that Alzolay will start on Monday, when the Cubs open a four-game series against the division rival Pirates.
Corrected rotation for Pittsburgh: Alzolay, Darvish, Hamels, Quintana. (Lester pitches Sunday in Cin)— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 28, 2019
Alzolay has delivered two positive outings for the Cubs since the getting promoted from Triple-A Iowa. The 24-year-old made his big league debut in relief on June 20 against the Mets, tossing four innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts. He looked solid in his first MLB start Tuesday against the Braves, too, allowing one run in 4 2/3 innings, striking out four.
Alzolay starting next week means that Tyler Chatwood will return to the bullpen, where he has been a swiss army knife of sorts for manager Joe Maddon this season. Maddon has used the 29-year-old for multiple innings in relief, including four apiece on May 11 against the Brewers and May 22 against the Phillies.
Chatwood has made two starts since Kyle Hendricks landed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation on June 15. He preceded Alzolay on June 20, allowing two earned-runs in four innings before passing the reigns to the rookie right-hander.
Alzolay's big league promotion came in part because Chatwood has pitched mostly in relief this season. Chatwood isn't stretched out enough for a prototypical starter's pitch count, hence the need for Alzolay to piggyback him against the Mets.
The Cubs are being cognizant of Alzolay's workload, too, though. He missed most of the 2018 season with a lat strain and the most innings he's pitched in the minor leagues is 120 1/3 back in 2016. Between the MLB and MiLB this season, Alzolay has thrown 44 2/3 innings.
“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after Tuesday's game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”
Alzolay will start in place of Hendricks next week, whose return to the rotation is still unknown. The Cubs aren't ruling out a return from the 29-year-old before the All-Star break, though.
"It is possible. We're not excluding any of that," Joe Maddon said Thursday morning at Wrigley Field. "He's doing really well and he's feeling really good. If everything plays out properly and it looks like it's the right thing to do, we will. But we're still gonna listen to him and his body, but he sounds really encouraging right now."
In the meantime, Alzolay appears to be the fifth man in the Cubs rotation. Whether or not he starts next weekend is still to be determined. The Cubs have a rare Friday off day on July 5, giving Jon Lester an extra day of rest before a two-game series against the White Sox on July 6-7.
Alzolay could start on July 7, the Cubs' last game before the All-Star break. It might make more sense to have him start rather than Hendricks, giving the latter more time off before re-joining the Cubs for their homestand after the break. If he's still with the Cubs then, Alzolay will obviously miss the MLB All-Star Futures Game, which he was named to on Friday.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.