Friday, April 19, 2024

Cubs Start Rookie Javier Assad In Game 1 Of Double-Header


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The Cubs dropped the first game of a five-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday.  Drew Smyly had another great outing for the Cubs, going 7 innings and only allowing 1 run on the Pujols’ home run.  Unfortunately, the Cubs’ offense could not help him out and they lost 1-0.  Jordan Montgomery threw a complete game shutout in his 4th start with St. Louis.

Today, the two rivals will take Ernie Banks’ advice and play a double-header at Wrigley.  Adam Wainwright will be throwing for the Cardinals and the Cubs have brought up rookie Javier Assad to make his first start in the majors.

Javier Assad

Javier Assad was signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of Tijuana, Mexico.  The then 17-year-old got to work elevating through the minor league ranks.  In 2021 after the pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season, Javier played at AA Tennessee.  He started 20 games and pitched to a WHIP of 1.54 which is higher than you want to see.

Assad elevated his pitching in the offseason between 2021 and this year and is having a successful campaign.  He started at Tennessee again, this time pitching to a 4-1 record with a 2.51 ERA in 14 starts.  Javier was promoted to AAA Iowa where he continued to succeed.  In 7 starts with Iowa, Javier has a WHIP of 1.04 which is the lowest of his career at any level.

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Assad will be thrown into the fire against a great Cardinals line-up today, but a good performance could be huge for Javier moving forward.  He is coming off a 6-inning shutout for Iowa and can ride that good start into Wrigley.  We will get to see how his stuff translates to the major league level and if he can stay calm on the big stage.

Cubs in the Second Half

Even with the tough loss yesterday, the Cubs have shown some great effort since the All-Star break.  Chicago is 17-12 since the break and has not lost a series since the last Cardinals series.  The Cubs bullpen has struggled to protect some late-inning leads.  This was bound to happen after shipping so many bullpen arms at the deadline but it is frustrating nonetheless.

Nick Madrigal has finally gotten some consistent playing time and in the last 14 games and has hit for an OPS of .723.  This included a game-tying single against the Brewers that led to a Cubs win.

Franmil Reyes has also been a great addition to the roster.  He began his Cubs tenure with a 9-game hitting streak and has been ideal as a DH.  Franmil has hit 7 extra base hits and has an OPS of .903 with the Cubs.  This comes after an OPS of .603 with Cleveland.

Seiya Suzuki is heating up with an OPS of .860 in the last week.  Ian Happ joined a list of legendary Cubs with his 100th career home run with the Cubs.  Willson Contreras has an OPS of .996 in the last week that included a multi-home run game against Milwaukee.

Looking Ahead

The Cubs need to have some success in this series because they have a tough schedule ahead of them.  After a nice homestand, the Cubs will head to Milwaukee, Toronto, and St. Louis for three 3-game series.  The Cubs have played great after the All-Star break but a tough road schedule will be a good test for the team.

Obviously they are long out of the playoff chase, but being able to show some effort against playoff teams in Late August is a sign of things to come.  With so many young guys on the roster, this is the first time facing teams that are in the midst of a playoff chase, even if the Cubs are not.  Playing in these high intensity games is great preparation for the young core moving forward, it will not be too long before they are the ones in a playoff chase.

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