The White Sox have a chance to salvage perhaps one thing out of this shipwreck of a season, and tonight, that one thing is continuing to play spoiler for the Cubs, who remain several games back of Milwaukee in the NL Central, and still within reach of the Marlins and Diamondbacks in NL Wild Card territory.
The Cubs are staking their hopes tonight on swingman Javier Assad, who makes his fourth start of the year tonight to go with his 18 relief appearances, typically entailing multiple innings. He has a 3.12 ERA on the season after opening his career with a 3.11 mark in nine appearances (eight starts) last year. You may have also caught Assad pitching for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic this spring, where he threw 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.
Assad is a soft-contact merchant who throws a Lance Lynn-esque sinker/cutter/four-seamer trio, supplemented by a slider that he throws to righties and a curveball and changeup that he utilizes against lefties. His fastball lives in the low nineties, and he won’t miss any bats, but he doesn’t need it when he’s keeping hitters off-balance with good command and a deep arsenal. He threw 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings against the Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field a few weeks ago, but that’s his only experience against the South Siders.
In other franchise news, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel updated his top prospect list this afternoon, placing the 21-year-old in the number two spot, behind only last year’s top overall pick, Jackson Holliday of the Baltimore Orioles. Montgomery has a 1.029 OPS across three levels so far this year, and despite a .179 batting average since his promotion to Double-A, he’s still run an excellently even 10-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in that time.
On the lineup side, Eloy Jiménez gets a day off today after seemingly dealing with some leg soreness in yesterday’s gaming, sliding Andrew Vaughn into the DH slot and Gavin Sheets into the lineup at first base. Otherwise, they’ll be rolling with the same group that got them yesterday’s W.
David Ross and the Cubs, meanwhile, are doing almost the same thing, running it back with yesterday’s lineup save for the small tweak of subbing in Tucker Barnhart for Yan Gomes behind the plate and the monumental change of flipping Jeimer Candelario and Christopher Morel in the batting order.
First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. CT, and as per usual, the Sox side of the TV and radio broadcasts can be found on NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN AM 1000, respectively. See you in the comments!