Jed Hoyer didn’t share anything particularly revelatory regarding the respective futures of Craig Kimbrel and Adbert Alzolay Friday, though the Cubs GM did clarify some widely held assumptions. Speaking to members of the media prior to the afternoon tilt with the Mets, Hoyer laid out some basic plans for the two pitchers.
Kyle Hendricks played light catch earlier in the day, which Hoyer called a “big step,” but there is still no set time on his return. Theo Epstein said earlier in the week that there was no structural damage, so this doesn’t appear to require a lengthy absence. Even so, the Cubs are going to need to cover at least one more start.
That could mean repeating Thursday’s piggyback approach by pairing Alzolay with Tyler Chatwood, or it could mean using both as part of a six-man rotation. Of course, the club could also opt to keep Alzolay as a primary starter and shift Chatwood back to the bullpen.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said the plan for Adbert Alzolay is being formulated . A possible six man rotation with Chatwood & Alzolay is being discussed internally .No plan yet for Kyle Hendricks return.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) June 21, 2019
Though the box score will say the veteran righty had a decent outing Thursday night, he only earned about a C+ on the eye test. And since stretching the rotation means thinning out the ‘pen, it might not be best to use Chatwood as a starter. The Cubs can do some additional shifting, though, shortening the bench for a little while.
One option is activating Tony Barnette, which seemed like the corresponding move to Tim Collins being designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster. That would provide additional stability and a fresh arm if the Cubs indeed stretch the rotation.
Kimbrel’s arrival will further shore up the ‘pen, and that could come sooner than expected. The closer said Thursday that he was mentally ready to pitch in the bigs again, but that he needed to make sure his body was tuned up. A big part of that is pitching in back-to-back games, something Hoyer said was a possibility for this weekend.
If Kimbrel is indeed able to pitch both Friday and Saturday in Des Moines, he could be on the next thing smoking to Chicago in order to be ready for the Braves series that starts Monday. As if facing his old team didn’t offer enough intrigue, Atlanta has already activated starter Dallas Keuchel. He’ll start Friday against the Nationals and should take the mound for one of the last two games in Chicago as well.
Stay tuned for more.