The Cubs are planning to promote right-hander Javier Assad to start the first game of tomorrow’s doubleheader against the Cardinals, manager David Ross told reporters (including Mark Gonzales). Chicago will need to formally select his contract, although that’s a formality considering they already have an opening on the 40-man roster.
It’ll be the first MLB appearance for the 25-year-old Assad, who has spent the past seven years progressing up the minor league ladder. A member of the organization’s 2015-16 international signing class, the Mexico native has a 3.96 ERA in a bit more than 500 professional innings. That includes a sterling 2.66 mark in 108 1/3 frames this year, split between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Assad has fanned a solid 24.8% of opponents between the minors top two levels against just a 7.8% walk percentage.
The 6’1″ hurler has never been a top prospect, and the Cubs left him off the 40-man roster last offseason and were prepared to make him available to other teams in the Rule 5 draft (which never happened as a consequence of the lockout). There’s little quibbling with his results at the upper levels of the system this year, however, and he’s earned an opportunity to try to carve out a longer-term role on the pitching staff.
Chicago is without Kyle Hendricks, Adbert Alzolay, Keegan Thompson, Wade Miley and Alec Mills at present. Justin Steele has developed into a solid starter, and the Cubs have veterans Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly taking consistent turns through the rotation. Journeyman Adrian Sampson has done a nice job holding a spot at the back end, but Thompson’s placement on the injured list over the weekend leaves a vacancy in the regular starting five.