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Cubs giving another young arm look as Javier Assad will start Tuesday

2 years agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs are giving another young arm a look in the majors.

David Ross announced Monday that 25-year-old Mexican pitcher Javier Assad will start Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals, opposite Adam Wainwright. Adrian Sampson will start the second game against Jake Woodford.

Assad has pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 8 games (7 starts) for the Iowa Cubs since his promotion from Double-A Tennessee on July 3.

“He’s been throwing the ball really well,” David Ross said. “Looking forward to seeing him at some point and see how he competes tomorrow.”

Assad has been throwing the ball well all year — and that’s thanks to an uptick in velocity this season.

“First and foremost, he’s pitched really, really well,” Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said. “I think on a deeper level, he’s added velocity this year. That’s made him somewhat of a different pitcher, raised his ceiling.”

The Cubs and Assad have seen the benefits of that spike in velocity from the onset of this year. At Double-A, Assad pitched to a 2.51 ERA in 14 starts and struck out 74 batters in 71.2 innings of work.

Assad has been stellar in his last two outings with Iowa. He allowed 1 run and struck out 5 in 6 innings on Aug. 12 and pitched 6 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts on Aug. 18. Most impressively, Assad has limited his walks, allowing only 7 free passes in 36.2 innings in Iowa, posting a 1.04 WHIP in that time. Triple-A batters are hitting just .223 against him.

“It’s fun,” Banner said. “I think it’s a testament all the staff down below in the minor leagues working hard. They’re gonna get some of the recognition, but on days like tomorrow, they get to turn on their TV and feel really proud of the work they’ve put in.”

Assad joins a group of young Cubs pitchers who have received an opportunity to show what they can do in the majors this season. Brandon Hughes, Erich Uelman and Michael Rucker are pitching high-leverage innings in the bullpen while Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have stabilized the rotation this season. Caleb Kilian and Matt Swarmer also made a handful of starts earlier this summer. 

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