Cubs

Cubs, Adbert Alzolay dealt a tough break with season-ending injury

Cubs, Adbert Alzolay dealt a tough break with season-ending injury

ST. LOUIS - Adbert Alzolay won't be pitching at Wrigley Field this season.

The Cubs' top pitching prospect will be shut down for the year with a lat injury he suffered in his last start on May 29. 

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer met with the media before Friday's game in  St. Louis and said Alzolay won't need surgery but the organization is ruling him out for the season given the length of rest that's needed to let the injury heal.

The Cubs are obviously cautious with a 23-year-old and don't want to rush him back this season and risk any long-term damage to what they believe will be a promising career.

"It's a bad break for him and for the club," Hoyer said. "But the good news is it wasn't serious enough to need surgery. It's just the nature of the time we are in the season — he won't be able to come back and pitch."

Hoyer didn't specify exactly how long the inactivity period is for Alzolay to let the lat heal up, but with the minor-league season roughly half over already and the time he would need to rehab, build up stamina and arm strength again, it'd be too late to continue his development at Triple-A or join a pennant race in Chicago.

The Cubs haven't yet discussed a concrete plan for where Alzolay where pitch when he returns to a mound, but they are weighing instructional league, the Arizona Fall League and winter ball as options.

Before the season began, the Cubs looked at Alzolay as a guy that could potentially help the big-league rotation at some point as depth beyond their regular five starters and Mike Montgomery.

Obviously that's not happening now and the Cubs will need to look elsewhere if they need another starter.

"With him, we had our eyes on two different things: Really finishing off his development and whether he was able to help us," Hoyer said. "He was certainly trending in that direction. We're gonna be on the lookout for depth in the rotation, depth in the bullpen no matter what. This kinda underscores that a little bit."

Alzolay didn't exactly dominate Triple-A hitters when he was pitching, going 2-4 with a 4.76 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. But he did throw 4 perfect innings on the May 29 start before exiting with the lat issue and also began the year with a 2.12 ERA in his first three starts before hitting a speed bump.

Chris Gimenez — who spent the first two months of the season catching Alzolay in Triple-A Iowa before being promoted to the big leagues — thought the kid was about to break out.

Alzolay broke out in a big way in 2017, going 7-4 with a 2.99 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 108 strikeouts in 114.1 innings. He was the Cubs' only representative on Baseball Prospectus' preseason prospect rankings, coming in at No. 95.

Now he'll lose a big chunk of a valuable year of development.

"It's a setback for 2018, but we don't see it as a setback for his career," Hoyer said. "We love the makeup, we love the stuff and we think he's gonna help us a lot in the future.

"But obviously there is a setback and he'll need his development over the course of the winter and then development in the minor leagues next year because he missed a lot of time."

Cubs Talk Podcast: What would it take for the Cubs to trade Kris Bryant?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: What would it take for the Cubs to trade Kris Bryant?

Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki break down the Kris Bryant trade rumors.

01:00 - How much truth is there to the "Will Kris Bryant be traded" story?

04:25 - Is there any package a team could offer that would give the Cubs what they value Bryant at?

05:35 - Who is the most untouchable player on the Cubs roster?

08:55 - Will Bryant be in Chicago long enough to wear a Cubs hat if he makes it to Cooperstown?

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12:00 - Is Nolan Arenado a match in a possible trade for Bryant

16:00 - If MVP is Bryant's ceiling, what is his floor?

17:00 - Any players who had a shoulder issue like Bryant had who never bounced back?

19:00 - Would a Noah Syndergaard for Kris Bryant trade make sense?

20:20 - Could Josh Donaldson be a target for the Cubs?

21:00 - Is all this Bryant talk much ado about nothing

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Joe Maddon received a first-place vote for NL Manager of the Year

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Joe Maddon received a first-place vote for NL Manager of the Year

Joe Maddon's future beyond 2019 remains unclear, but his 2018 performance was good enough in someone's eyes to warrant a first-place vote in NL Manager of the Year voting.

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker won the award, receiving 17 of the 30 first-place votes in the process. Meanwhile, Maddon also added a third-place vote to finish fifth overall, behind Milwaukee's Craig Counsell, Colorado's Bud Black and St. Louis' Mike Shildt.

Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for the award and two representatives from each market vote, adding up to the 30 voters (see the full list of 2018 NL voters here). Jayson Stark tweeted out that it was in fact 670 The Score's Bruce Levine who voted for Maddon with a hometown pick.

A large number of Cubs fans are disappointed that 2018 was the worst postseason run the team has had in the current run of four straight playoff appearances, but that doesn't factor into the voting. Maddon led the Cubs to 95 wins, second best in the league to the Brewers after Milwaukee won the NL Central playoff at Wrigley Field. He did so while Yu Darvish pitched only 40 innings, Kris Bryant was limited to 102 games and had his worst season in the majors and closer Brandon Morrow didn't pitch after July 15.

That is a decent argument to make for Maddon, but expectations have never been higher on the North Side and Theo Epstein saying the Cubs won't renew his contract this offseason isn't the highest vote of confidence.

Maddon's future with the Cubs will be a talking point until he either leaves or gets a new contract, but he has one believer in Chicago.