Javier Assad Has Made the Chicago Cubs Bullpen
I love how this storyline transformed as the spring went on, and I love that the Cubs have another multi-inning weapon in the bullpen to open the season.
Today, Cubs manager David Ross announced that Javier Assad, star of the Team Mexico bullpen in the WBC, has made the Opening Day roster (Bastian). Assad, who pitched as a starter and a reliever last year in a cup of coffee (after breaking out as a starter in the upper minors), will begin the season as part of the Cubs’ bullpen.
Assad, who was last seen throwing 95-97 mph in the WBC, posted a 3.11 ERA over 37.2 innings last year with the Cubs (eight starts, one relief appearance). His peripherals were not as strong, including an 18.1% K rate and 12.0% BB rate. But in a multi-inning relief role, and with his velocity popping this offseason with some specialized training, maybe a whole lot plays up. Velo on the fastball, the still-quite-good cutter, and a wipeout curveball? I could see it playing very well.
In the end, Assad might’ve been a better “fit” for the Cubs as starting depth at Triple-A Iowa, where everyone expected this was going when Spring Training began. But when a guy is clearly clicking and totally in “go” mode, why would you not want to let him keep doing it for your big league team in the innings that matter most? None of that is to say Assad couldn’t stretch back out if the Cubs needed him to, or couldn’t head back to Iowa if his performance dictates it. This is the right move.