Javier Assad has emerged as the most valuable Chicago Cubs pitcher

The young right-hander has been an unsung hero for a pitching staff riddled with injuries.
Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs have been dealing with a swarm of injuries to key pitchers like Justin Steele, Jameson Taillon and Jordan Wicks, but the team has responded impressively well, thanks in a big part to guys like Javier Assad.

Aside from Justin Steele, the argument can be made that Assad is the best pitcher the Cubs have developed in the last decade. Since making his MLB debut in 2022, Assad has a career ERA of 2.87 over 179 innings pitched.

During his last start against the New York Mets, Marquee Sports Network also shared a graphic about Assad having the lowest ERA (2.44) over the last calendar year of any qualified pitcher who has thrown at least 100 innings in that time.

At every turn over the last 2 years, Javier Assad has answered the call

This type of production is very rare, especially for a young pitcher like Assad. 2023 was his first full year in the majors and he was able to seamlessly transition between the bullpen and the starting rotation without losing a step.

Javier Assad in MLB

Innings Pitched




As a Starter





As a Reliever





With Steele returning from his hamstring injury soon, and Kyle Hendricks and Jordan Wicks probably coming back in the future, there's a chance Assad will return to the swing-man bullpen job. Obviously, you'd want to keep a hot pitcher like this in the rotation, but the fact that the team has the depth and options to put Assad anywhere is extremely valuable from a roster construction standpoint.

The most intriguing part of Assad's ascension to an elite MLB arm is the fact that it sort of came out of nowhere. After signing as an international free agent out of Mexico in 2015, Assad only cracked an MLB top-30 list once in 2018 and he mostly flew under the radar until his debut in 2022. But now, the 26-year-old is a key part of the team's pitching staff and is in a position to stay in that role for a very long time.