The Cubs are calling up Javier Assad to start Game 1 of the doubleheader Tuesday against the Cardinals, manager David Ross said. Right-hander Adrian Sampson is scheduled for Game 2.
“First and foremost, [Assad is] pitching really, really well,” Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said. “That’s the first thing, that performances stood out at the Double-A and Triple-A level. I think on a deeper level, he’s added velocity this year that’s made him somewhat of a different pitcher, raised his ceiling a bit.
‘‘So looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. He’s going to hopefully attack the zone with this stuff. He commands the ball really well, changes speeds, does everything that we like to see. So hopefully it’ll translate well.”
Assad has a 2.66 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A combined this season.
Expect more debuts as the season winds down and the Cubs continue to navigate injuries to pitchers Kyle Hendricks, who is done for the season, Wade Miley, whose timetable remains unclear, and Keegan Thompson, who landed on the 15-day -injured list (lower back) last weekend.
“It’s fun,” Banner said of the call-ups. “It’s a testament to all the staff in the minor leagues working hard that don’t get some of the recognition. But on days like tomorrow, they get to turn on their TV and feel really proud of the work they put in.”
Pujols hits another milestone
Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is approaching the 700 home-run mark. But before Monday, he’d never hit one off Cubs starter Drew Smyly.
That changed in the seventh inning of the Cubs’ 1-0 loss when Pujols hit a solo shot. He has homered off 449 pitchers, tying Barry Bonds for the most in MLB history. It was Pujols’ 693rd career homer.
“He’s Albert Pujols; he’s the GOAT,” Smyly said. “He finally got me.”
Smyly, who held the Cardinals to one run through seven innings, hit a milestone of his own. To open the third inning, he got Lars Nootbaar for his 900th career strikeout. He fanned six in the game.
Cardinals starter Jordan Montgomery, however, pitched a shutout, the first of his career, and allowed only one hit. It was the first complete-game shutout against the Cubs since Cole Hamels’ no-hitter in 2015.
Alzolay on assignment
Adbert Alzolay, who has been sidelined all season with a strained right shoulder, began a rehab assignment in the Arizona Complex League on Monday. Any innings he can build up at the end of the season can serve as a jumping-off point next year.
Outfield prospect Brennen Davis (back surgery) will join Single-A South Bend on Tuesday, Banner said. Davis started his rehab assignment in the Arizona Complex League a week ago.
“He’s not going to be there long,” Banner said. “The goal is to get him up to Triple-A in short order.”
Catcher Miguel Amaya, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, left a Double-A game Friday with a dislocated left ring finger. Banner estimated that Amaya will be out about a week.