Lefty batters make it a long night for Adbert Alzolay as Cubs fall to Reds
Left-handed hitters went 4-for-10 with three homers against Alzolay in the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the Reds.
The Cubs are in fourth place in the National League Central ahead of the trade deadline Friday, with the winds of change swirling around Wrigley Field. Yet, even as they’ve already become sellers, each start by right-hander Adbert Alzolay offers a comforting peek into what lies ahead for their rotation.
Alzolay has been better than expected in his first season in the rotation and has shown flashes of brilliance — even as his record dropped to 4-11 on Tuesday in the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the visiting Reds.
Alzolay, who allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings, has shown he can handle the physical toll of a full season.
His next step is figuring out left-handed hitters like the ones the Reds stacked against him.
“I think it’s continuing to have command of the pitches he’s throwing,” manager David Ross said. “I think what stood out to me [was] some of the flatness and being able to command down and away to lefties. Looked like the cutter and slider, everything’s coming into those guys’ [barrels].”
Entering Tuesday, lefty hitters already had a .970 OPS against Alzolay, who has found himself largely unable to neutralize them with his fastball and slider. Things didn’t start out well for him in the first inning, as Jesse Winker hit a no-doubt solo homer on a slider to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Joey Votto added a 419-foot solo shot on a fastball.
Votto wasn’t done, crushing a homer on a cutter in the third to make it 4-2.
“I just kept missing my spot with that pitch,” Alzolay said. “I have such a small room for error. . . . I feel we just need to be working on making those adjustments with lefties. I need to start using the other side of the plate a little more so the hitters can have a different view of the ball and not just look middle-inside.”
For the game, lefty hitters were 4-for-10 off Alzolay, including the three homers. He has allowed 19 homers against lefties this season and just four against righties.
“I feel like if I start giving lefties different looks at the ball or going backdoor slider, using the changeup more like I did today at the end of the game, I feel I will have more room to go inside with my other pitches against lefties,” he said.
Alzolay struck out four batters without allowing a walk. His fifth and final inning was his only 1-2-3 inning of the game.
“If you don’t have that glove-side command, front hip, with the fastball, you don’t have a lot of room for error when you go into that side of the plate to a left-handed hitter,” Ross said. “So commanding down in general is something I think we can improve on.”
Anthony Rizzo got the Cubs’ offense going with a two-run shot in the first — his third straight game with a first-inning homer and the first time he has homered in three straight games since May 22-24, 2019. Patrick Wisdom and Kris Bryant added solo homers in the ninth.