Cubs’ left-handed relievers finding early success in bullpen

The Cubs’ southpaws in the bullpen have a combined 3.26 ERA in 19 1/3 innings this season.

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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

It wasn’t always certain what the Cubs would get from their left-handed options in the bullpen during spring training, but the lefty relievers have started to show what they can do.

There were few left-handed bullpen options for manager David Ross last season before the team acquired Andrew Chafin at the trade deadline. This season, they’ve had quality innings from Chafin, Rex Brothers, Justin Steele and Brad Wieck.

The four relievers have a combined 3.26 ERA over 19 1/3 innings this season.

“I think [Chafin] we knew coming in, we had a lot of confidence from seeing him last year and how he competes,” Ross said. “Rex, to me, was probably our best pitcher overall in spring training that I saw. Just the stuff that we knew was there. . . . He looks like he’s in a really good place. The balls come out of his hand really well.

“Justin Steele, Brad Wieck, we’ve got some really good lefties. Kyle Ryan is still down there working his way back. We’ve got a lot of confidence in the lefties, and they will be and they have been a big part of this team.”

Happ enjoys co-host’s big day

Center fielder Ian Happ’s podcast, “The Compound ‘’ has taken off since it launched during quarantine last year and one of his co-hosts got his first taste of the big leagues on Wednesday. Tigers prospect Zack Short, a former Cub, made his major-league debut for Detroit against the Pirates, and Happ was able to watch his good friend’s big accomplishment before the Cubs took on the Mets.

“We found out a couple days ago,” Happ said. “Obviously, couldn’t speak to it [when we found out], but we were super excited. Dakota [Mekkes] and I were texting with him the last couple of days. I’m just really fired up for him to have that opportunity.

“It’s just really awesome. Just very Zack Short-esque two at-bats today, working two walks, great defense diving. But just really excited for him, his family, and a lot of long days at the yard, some injuries he’s overcome, but to have a chance to debut is really, really special.”

Alzolay to start Saturday vs. Brewers

The Cubs optioned right-hander Adbert Alzolay to the team’s alternate site last week, but the young right-hander won’t be in South Bend, Indiana, much longer.

Ross said before Wednesday’s game that Alzolay would be back with the club Saturday and would start against the Brewers.

Alzolay is 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts this season but pitched well in his last start against the Brewers on April 12. 

The Cubs are monitoring Alzolay’s innings and workload as he pitches in a full MLB season for the first time in his career.

The most innings Alzolay has thrown during his professional career was 126 in 2017.

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