A young Cub, Javier Assad, made his MLB debut as the Cubs played eight games this past week. 

Assad made his debut amidst a doubleheader at Wrigley Field on Aug. 23.

Assad made incredible growth this season. He began the 2022 season pitching for the AA Tennessee Smokies, where he pitched successfully for nearly three months. During that stretch, Assad dominated, only allowing four earned runs in a game once. In early July, Assad was promoted to AAA Iowa Cubs. In AAA, Assad continued his success in eight starts.

The front office took a chance on Assad, ultimately promoting him to the major league club on Aug. 23rd, where he made his debut against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Photo: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

In his debut, Assad proved to be a natural starter, gaining attention from fans and adding an exciting stat line.

 Assad pitched into and out of trouble numerous times; Assad allowed four hits and four walks over four innings of work. Lars Nootbaar and Albert Pujols combined for three doubles against Assad. Despite the hard contact, the rookie showed poise and avoided damage throughout the debut.

Assad left the game with the lead as the Cubs blanked the Cardinals.

The coolest moment came in the top of the second inning.

With one out, future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols walked up to the plate. Assad painted the outside corner with a 95 MPH fastball, putting down Pujols looking for the first strikeout of his career.

Assad became only the fourth MLB player to strike out Pujols for the first K of their career. He joins Jonathon Broxton, Yoslán Herrera and Carson Fulmer.

“I never would have imagined that I would have been facing him, let alone getting that strikeout,” Assad said of the feat.

Assad remained on the big-league roster and made his second career start against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. COVID-19 protocols kept a few regular starters off the roster for the trip up north.

Another Cubs rookie, Jeremiah Estrada, made his big-league debut on Tuesday against the Jays.

The Cubs drafted Estrada in the sixth round of the 2017 June Amateur Draft out of Palm Desert High School. Throughout Estrada’s minor league career, he has been nasty from the bullpen. Estrada has a career 1.94 ERA in the minor leagues. The rookie has jumped up during the 2022 season; in all levels, he dominated.

Estrada entered 2022 on the South Bend Cubs. In two of his 15 appearances, he allowed an earned run.

His performance promoted him to the AA Tennessee Smokies. His play persisted, and his strikeout numbers increased. The Cubs had no choice but to promote Estrada to the AAA Iowa Cubs.

In six appearances and six innings, Estrada allowed zero earned runs. He also added 12 strikeouts. With the Cubs’ trip to Toronto leaving players out, the team added Estrada to the big-league roster. 

In Estrada’s major league debut, he pitched one inning of relief, striking out two batters and walking one. Estrada allowed zero hits  and threw 17 pitches in the inning. 11 of the 17 pitches were strikes.

His first strikeout came against the first batter he faced, Teoscar Hernández. Estrada set him down on four pitches, his fourth a nasty slider that tailed away from the right-handed hitter.

His next strikeout turned heads within the organization. Estrada sat down Danny Jansen on three pitches. His putout pitch was thrown at 98 MPH!

To summarize, Estrada has some elite abilities. There’s no surprise he moved up the system so quickly with his performance.

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