Cubs to call up Javier Assad to start Game 1 of doubleheader vs. Cardinals

The Cubs are calling up Javier Assad to start Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals, Cubs manager David Ross announced. Right-hander Adrian Sampson is scheduled for Game 2.

“First and foremost, he’s pitching really, really well,” Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said. “That’s the first thing, that performances stood out both at the Double-A and Triple-A level. I think on a deeper level, he’s added velocity this year that’s made them 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 IL (low back) this weekend.

“It’s fun,” Banner said of the call-ups. It’s a testament to all the staff down below in the minor-leauges 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 win/loss when Pujols logged the only run of the game on a solo shot. With that home run, Pujols has homered off 449 different 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 on Monday. To open the third inning, he struck out Lars Notbaar for the southpaw’s 900th career strikeout. He recorded six strikeouts in all.

Cardinals starter Jordan Montgomery, however, threw a complete-game shutout, the first of his career, and allowed just 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 with 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 for the young pitcher.

Prospect update

Outfield prospect Brennen Davis (back surgery) will join Single-A South Bend on Tuesday, Banner announced. 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 on Friday with a dislocated left ring finger. Banner estimated that Amaya will be out for about a week.

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