Ross thinks slider has been key to Alzolay's success
The Cubs saw some signs late last season and Saturday was another good step in Adbert Alzolay's quest to become a quality starter.
In his last two starts, both against Milwaukee, Alzolay has given up 1 hit through 5 innings and 1 hit through 4 innings. He ran into some trouble after that and the bullpen didn't help him in either game, but he's been sharp and manager David Ross offered a reason why.
"I think the slider has definitely been the pitch that changed things for him," Ross said. "I see the confidence in the fastball continue to grow, the changeup as well. But the slider, sometimes it's nice and short, sometimes he can make it a little bit bigger, more like a curve ball. He's able to manipulate that pitch really well and I feel like that's been the definite addition that's been the game-changer for him since last year for sure."
Alzolay has been more effective against right-handed batters than lefties. Right-handers are batting .091 against him this season. He's hoping the slider can become an equalizer.
"I think that's the whole idea," Alzolay said after Saturday's game. "I feel that now I'm able to manipulate the pitch a little bit more. I can go up, I can go down, back door too, whenever I want. So I feel like just keep repeating my mechanics of my delivery with that pitch and just keep the shape of that pitch, it's going to start working with both righties and lefties."
According to Baseball Savant, Alzolay has thrown the slider 43% of the time this season, compared to 26% for the four-seam fastball. He did get a key first-inning strikeout of Travis Shaw on Saturday with a 96-mile per hour fastball. Opposing batters from both sides are hitting .121 against Alzolay's slider.
With an average fastball velocity of 93.5, Alzolay is the hardest thrower among Cubs starters, followed by Trevor Williams at 91.2.