Javier Assad's latest start confirms his future in the Chicago Cubs rotation

Javier Assad buried the Rockies for 6 innings, solidifying his spot in the Cubs' starting rotation.

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

First, it was Shota Imanaga capturing headlines with an impressive debut in the Wrigley home opener; now, it's Javier Assad stepping into the limelight, proving he belongs in the team's starting rotation for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday night, Assad shut down the Rockies for an impressive 6 innings, allowing only four hits and one walk, earning his first win of the season. This win served as a reminder of how important he has been to Chicago's pitching staff to this point in his Cubs tenure.

Rewinding the clock to 2023, Assad recorded a 3.05 ERA over 109.1 innings of work and had solid splits as a starter (3.02 ERA) vs. as a reliever (3.07 ERA). For his career, his ERA sits at 3.06. Say what you want about the level of competition he faced in his first start of the year, being that it was Colorado on a cold, windy, and rainy night at Wrigley; the fact is, that is precisely what good pitchers are supposed to do against bad teams.

In 2023, Assad's pitching run value sat in the 85th percentile, while his sinker specifically created a run value of 13. With an FIP of 4.29 a season ago, it's easy to see why experts think regression may be coming, but Assad has done an excellent job getting out of jams, leaving a career 83.2% of runners on base when he does let them on.

Javier Assad is making a strong case to remain in Chicago Cubs' rotation.

As Assad excels at the major league level, the Cubs may want to be cautious of his inning count this year. Last year, his 109 frames were the second most he's pitched since 2019 at High-A (at the time) Myrtle Beach. Asking him to throw 150+ if he stays healthy may not be wise, as this is how injuries can sometimes occur. Still, for now, it's easy to feel confident that you will get a solid outing from him when he steps on the mound.

Craig Counsell's biggest problem will be deciding what to do with the starting rotation once Justin Steele and Jameson Taillon are healthy. If Taillon comes back and struggles out of the gate, he needs to have a short leash, but there's another path for Assad to remain put, and that's if Jordan Wicks falters at any point. Until then, if Assad continues to stay locked in like we saw against Colorado, then taking him out of the rotation will be counterproductive.

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