Friday, May 24, 2024

Incredible Study Explains The Emergence Of Javier Assad


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The Chicago Cubs began the season behind the eight ball when it came to starting pitching. Jameson Taillon didn’t even make a spring start before he tweaked his back. He is on the injured list and set to return as soon as the end of this current road trip. Ace Justin Steele strained his hamstring on Opening Day, putting him on the injured list for the month of April.

But that’s not all. Manager Craig Counsell has his work cut out for him with this pitching staff. Kye Hendricks’ first three outings have some thinking his days as a reliable starter have come and gone. Jordan Wicks is stretching out, but he’s using a lot of pitches in his short outings.

The bright spot in the rotation thus far has been the work done by rookie left-hander Shōta Imanaga, who is on a tear after two starts in the Major Leagues. However, not enough light is being shined on the work young Javier Assad is doing.

Assad has gone eleven innings in two starts with a remarkable 1.64 earned run average. He’s only posted twelve strikeouts, but that’s because he’s finding other ways to get his outs. The only critique would be to find a way to use fewer pitches so quickly. That’s only so the Cubs can have him out there longer.

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Those following Assad for the three seasons he’s appeared for the Cubs will tell you this is no different than before. He has consistently gotten outs whenever given the opportunity to either start or come out of the bullpen. But his early success has begun to turn some heads outside of Chicago, and they’re analyzing the differences between last year and this year. To their credit, they may have found something.

Overall, Assad is in a position to dominate righties with two breaking balls and a sinker, and slide by lefties using the cutter and curve… with some other pitches snuck in.

Eno Sarris of The Athletic (Subscription Required)

Differences In Javier Assad’s Pitches Could Be Leading To A Breakout Season

Eno Sarris of The Athletic did a fantastic deep dive on four pitchers in Major League Baseball primed for a breakout due to work done on their pitches. One of those pitchers is our own Javier Assad. As I said above, Assad has been doing precisely what he needs to to be a big-league pitcher. But as Sarris finds, he’s making the necessary adjustments to stay a big-league pitcher.

Sarris found Assad’s sinker and added some “fade” to make it more of a two-seam fastball. This is leaving right-handed batters dumbfounded with swings and misses. He also found Assad’s four-seamer to be creating more “ride” and less movement in his cutting fastball. The analysis is if he can keep the cutter on left-handed batters’ hands, he’ll find more success. These adjustments are leading to even better results than the ones we’ve already seen.

Starting pitchers Jameson Taillon and Justin Steele will return from the injured list to the rotation within the next few weeks. This means two current starters will either find themselves in the bullpen or potentially move down to AAA Iowa.

These adjustments and the results he has generated should be enough to keep Assad in the starting rotation. Assad’s results and future are much brighter than Kyle Hendricks of recent, and he can find outs quicker than Jordan Wicks. If the Cubs are truly ready to win, they should feel confident riding with Assad and his recent success.

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