Javier Assad’s performance vs. Rockies sets up Cubs well for win Tuesday, bullpen day Wednesday

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – APRIL 02: Javier Assad #72 of the Chicago Cubs delivers a pitch in the first inning agains the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field on April 02, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Griffin Quinn/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 776096177

Griffin Quinn/Getty

Right-hander Javier Assad’s season debut Tuesday was important not only for the outcome of the game but also for the Cubs’ upcoming pitching plans.

In the Cubs’ 12-2 victory against the Rockies, Assad did everything the team could have asked of him. His six scoreless innings gave the offense a chance to run up the score.

“The pitch-maker in him comes out,” manager Craig Counsell said, “and he has a lot of confidence in that ,and he delivered with that.”

Assad’s start also helped the Cubs use only two relievers to finish the game, as the team figured out how they’d fill in for starter Justin Steele (strained left hamstring) on Wednesday.

The team announced lefty reliever Luke Little would open the game Wednesday, pitching on back-to-back days. The Cubs will need another pitcher to provide length behind him, and right-hander Ben Brown is expected to be available to throw multiple innings.

Assad isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but he had five of them Tuesday. The one in the sixth inning, when he got Rockies No. 3 hitter Nolan Jones to swing and miss at a curveball, inspired catcher Miguel Amaya to point back at Assad with his glove.

“It’s a pitch that we haven’t used, and Miguel asked for it, and it was well executed,” Assad said through an interpreter. “Of course, we had a lot of adrenaline from the game, and we were excited. Honestly, Miguel is a great catcher, and he called a great game.”

Assad limited the Rockies to four hits, and only two baserunners reached second base against him.

Offense aplenty

On the day after frigid weather made the long ball hard to come by in their home opener, the Cubs mashed four home runs Tuesday.

Seiya Suzuki’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot, flew out with a 115 mph exit velocity in the first inning.

“Seiya’s had some of the hardest hit balls that I’ve seen, in a month being here,” said first baseman Garrett Cooper, who signed with the Cubs this offseason.

Christopher Morel added a solo homer to lead off the third. Then Cooper, who finished a single shy of hitting for the cycle, logged his first homer with the Cubs, a three-run blast in the sixth. In the seventh, Cubs fans greeted Cody Bellinger with ‘‘Co-dy!’’ chants, and he pulled a two-run homer 425 feet, off the scoreboard.

“Sometimes you hear it, sometimes you don’t,” Bellinger said. “But I definitely heard that one. So, that was really cool.”

Weather considerations

Despite rain Monday and Tuesday, the Cubs managed to get in their games without any delays.

‘‘I feel like we have four days to play three games,’’ president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said Monday. ‘‘Hopefully we can do that. But it’s not a lot of fun looking at the forecast. I feel like I’m going to spend far too much time with the weather guys.’’

The series finale is scheduled for Wednesday, when there is snow in the forecast. The teams have a mutual day off Thursday.

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