Javier Assad, Cubs look to reverse trend against Giants

Field Level Media

June 17, 2024 at 10:58 am.

Right-hander Javier Assad will look to snap his five-game winless streak on Monday when the Chicago Cubs host the San Francisco Giants in the opener of their three-game series.

Assad (4-2, 2.81 ERA) is 0-2 and has surrendered six homers during that stretch. He’s also been plagued by walks and high pitch counts, so much so that he has failed to work five innings in four of his 14 starts this season.

Such was the case on Wednesday when he allowed one homer and two walks on his way to a 90-pitch outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. He received a no-decision after allowing two runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings of the 4-3 Cubs win.

Assad didn’t fare well in his lone career appearance against San Francisco. He yielded three runs on five hits — including a homer — in two innings of relief in a no-decision in a Chicago loss on June 11, 2023.

Like Assad, the Cubs are mired in a tailspin. Chicago fell for the 16th time in 23 games with a 2-1 setback to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Chicago mustered just five hits, went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners on base.

“It was a light day offensively,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “We didn’t do enough to score runs, flat out.”

Despite Chicago’s struggles, Dansby Swanson said his team has the talent to turn things around.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that have been there and done that and had successful careers and proven themselves to be really good hitters,” Swanson said. “We know that and we believe that. You’ve just got to keep going, and at some point, the tide will turn.”

The tide turned in a big way for San Francisco in the fourth inning of its series finale against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. The Giants scored nine runs in that inning, with Jorge Soler’s three-run homer highlighting the frame. Soler also drove in a run with a ground-rule double in the eighth inning to cap his four-RBI performance in the 13-6 San Francisco victory.

Soler is 15-for-48 (.313) with two homers, six RBIs and 10 runs thus far in June. By comparison, he batted .133 in March, .233 in April and .164 in May.
San Francisco belted out 16 hits on Sunday and went 9-for-19 with runners in scoring position.

Right-hander Jordan Hicks (4-3, 3.01) is expected to start for the Giants on Monday — provided he feels healthy enough to do so.

Hicks, 27, fell to 0-2 in his past four starts after yielding three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 3-1 setback to the Houston Astros on Tuesday. A bad case of the flu had him in bed and on IVs in the days leading up to the start.

San Francisco manager Bob Melvin came to his hurler’s defense after that outing, however.

“I think based on what he was dealing with today, the line doesn’t look great (but) I thought he pitched pretty well,” Melvin said Tuesday.

Hicks is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA and one save in 18 career relief appearances against the Cubs.