Javier Assad is the Definition of Pitchability

Like his rotation-mate Shota Imanaga, Javier Assad has reached the point where, after every single start, you want to say the same thing: wow, that was awesome, this guy is good. It gets a little stale, in an extremely desirable way.

So let’s just do this bullets-style, because there’s just a lotta fun little bits about a guy who is dominating in a way we don’t see too often in the modern game: a huge arsenal of pitches, all of which he uses a lot, all of which he can locate extremely well, and consistent-repeatable execution. He is the definition of Pitchability.

  • In his latest start, Assad went 6.0 scoreless innings against the Braves, allowing just four hits and one walk, and striking out seven. He got only six whiffs on the night, but his 27% CSW was nevertheless solid because the Braves took so many called strikes (17!). We think of whiffs as the best measure of how befuddled a hitter was, but sometimes it looks more like the first two strikeouts here:
  • In typical Javy form, he threw five different pitches at least five times, and four different pitches at least 10 times. He also snuck in one changeup, because why not.
  • Here’s how Braves outfielder Adam Duvall describe Assad’s sinker, and why it gives hitters trouble (Cubs.com): “The sinker has some depth. It’s not swing-and-miss stuff, but it just stays off the barrel. He gets ground balls when he needs them. I don’t know the metrics on his pitches, but the sinker has got good deception and it’s got late, down action.” Indeed. Assad has a 6.6% barrel rate this year, a scant 36.8% hard contact rate, and an absurd 14.3% line drive rate.
  • Assad’s 1.49 ERA is now 4th best in MLB, behind only his rotation-mate Shota Imanaga, Reynaldo Lopez, and Ranger Suarez, and just ahead of Seth Lugo, Tarik Skubal, Jon Gray, and Ronel Blanco. What an interesting list of ERA leaders so far this year.
  • And, Assad continues this streak:
  • Assad is also the first Cubs pitcher since 1968 to begin the season allowing 2 or fewer earned runs in his first nine starts.
  • Yan Gomes, who looked good behind the plate last night receiving Assad, said this (Tribune): “He goes out there and gives us everything he’s got. He battles out there for five-plus innings every time. … I definitely think guys need to start paying attention.”
  • To that end, more on how much the league needs to pay attention to Javier Assad:
  • And from Assad’s manager, who says the righty is pitching at an “elite level” right now:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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