Alzolay's slider becoming versatile weapon for Cubs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay delivers against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning Thursday in Atlanta.

    Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay delivers against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning Thursday in Atlanta. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/30/2021 8:44 PM

Adbert Alzolay picked up the first quality start of his career Thursday when he beat Atlanta and broke the Cubs' five-game losing streak.

A big part of Alzolay's success has been the slider, a pitcher he honed last year at the South Bend alternate site. According to baseballsavant.com, opposing hitters are batting .114 against Alzolay's slider, with as whiff percentage of 40. percent.

 

"I think finding the right grip for him (was key) and where he wanted to get his hand in the right position to get the maximum amount of spin and depth on the pitch," manager David Ross said.

"But what it's really evolved into is he can shape it. Sometimes it has a little bit bigger shape, a little slower with a little more break. He's got a nice sharp one that's kind of in between a cutter-slider and he's got the wipeout slider."

Alzolay confirmed he can use different grips to adjust the speed and break of the pitch. And he talked about not having his best stuff against the Braves, at least not at the start.

"Even knowing that it wasn't good at first, I never let it go," Alzolay said. "I was always trying until I found the release point with one of the grips I have for the pitch. After that, everything was better."

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Alzolay's ERA for the season is 4.71, but most of the damage happened in a few of bad innings.

"I think his stuff, I put it up there with anybody in baseball, just the way it moves," Cubs third baseman Matt Duffy said. "I faced him in a live BP right before the season started and was thoroughly impressed with the pure stuff. I think when he's aggressive like he was (Thursday), you see how difficult it is for hitters."

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