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2023 Cubs player profiles: Javier Assad

No. 25 in a series. Javier Assad is valuable insurance for now and a potential rotation piece going forward.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Javier Eduardo Assad is a 25-year-old pitcher with a lot of potential. So far in his MLB career, he’s been on the Iowa shuttle, but probably won’t be forever. His future may well be as a rotation piece — he’s mostly a starter in Triple-A and was a starter/reliever in the 2023 World Baseball Classic for his native Mexico, where he acquitted himself very well indeed.

He looks perfectly nerdly in his horn-rimmed glasses, and while his numbers (0-2, 4.98) aren’t terrible, they’re not going to impress anyone right now. They are part of a relatively small sample size, as Assad has logged 59⅓ innings in his entire Major-League career, compiling a 2-4 record and amassing 1.0 bWAR.

Assad features a two-seam fastball, a sinker, a cutter, a change, and a curve. His two-seamer can reach the upper 90s, and his cutter and sinker rest comfortably in the mid-90s. His issues are walks and strikeouts — he doesn’t strike out many (17.6 percent) while he walks a few too many (11.3 percent). His off-speed stuff isn’t as effective as it could be and he relies heavily on his fastball and cutter.

With a little more work on his command and secondary pitches, Assad profiles as a No. 3 to No. 5 starter in the major leagues. The Cubs are likely to be shedding at least one of their veteran arms and Assad and Hayden Wesneski are likely to battle for a spot in 2024, like they did this spring.

He’s under team control for a long time — Assad doesn’t become an ARB1 player until 2027. Assuming some development, he’s likely to be a bargain by the end of that period.

“Javy’s one of those guys that we feel like can come in and fill this hole and this void for a minute,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Hopefully it’s a short stint for Jamo and we’ll assess the future of the rotation after that. But Javy’s a really good pitcher and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” manager David Ross said, after Jameson Taillon went to the IL.

There’s no reason yet to think that Andy Martinez was wrong, when in 2022 he wrote that Assad can be part of the long-term pitching equation for the Cubs.

“Wasn’t on the radar very much to start the season,” Ross said. “He knows how to use the corners and he hasn’t shied away from any moments … the reason why he’s had such a successful season is because of his ability to move the baseball the way he wants to and the velocity’s been a little better.”

Javier Assad made the bullpen in 2023. Maybe he makes the rotation in 2024. If not, he can be a member of the ‘pen again, and the sixth, seventh, eighth starter, depending on what happens with guys like Wesneski and Adrian Sampson. It could be worse.