Atlanta Braves right-hander Bryce Elder will try for three consecutive quality starts when he takes the mound against the host Chicago Cubs in the second game of their three-game series on Saturday afternoon
After a rough start to the month, Elder made his past two starts against the Milwaukee Brewers and produced better results with each outing
Elder (8-2, 3.18 ERA) surrendered two runs and four hits over six innings of a 4-2 win in Milwaukee on July 23 but did not earn a decision
He returned to the mound six days later in Atlanta and was credited with the win after limiting the Brewers to one run and four hits in seven innings of an 11-5 win
"I think it's always good to get back on track," Elder said. "Last week in Milwaukee, I thought the result was good, but I was still a little shaky, but then (in the next start), I thought I commanded the ball well and made pitches when I needed to.
Elder said the main difference was he was more aggressive in the strike zone. He walked two batters in his first meeting against the Brewers, but none the second time
"I have to go right at guys and get guys to swing," Elder said. "You throw balls and they're not going to swing, so I figured I might as well throw it in the zone and get them more aggressive.
Elder, a first-time All-Star this season, has yet to face the Cubs in his big-league career
He'll try to follow up the effort delivered by left-hander Max Fried in the series opener on Friday
Fried threw six shutout innings in his first start in nearly three months to help the Braves to an 8-0 win, their sixth victory in the past seven games
Chicago had won three in a row and 13 of 16 to get back into the NL Central Division race
"Just a beating," Cubs manager David Ross said on Friday. "We'll go home tonight and be ready to go tomorrow.
Marcus Stroman was initially lined up to pitch on Saturday for Chicago, but he was placed on the 15-day injured list on Wednesday with hip inflammation
Instead the Cubs will send Javier Assad to the mound
Assad (1-2, 3.24) started eight games for Chicago last season, but only one of his 19 appearances this season has come in a starting role
The 26-year-old right-hander from Tijuana, Mexico, has thrown at least four innings three times this season, however
Assad threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in his most recent outing, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts and three walks in the Cubs' 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday
Assad threw three scoreless innings for Mexico in a World Baseball Classic pool-play game against the U.S. earlier this year, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts and no walks
Assad has never faced the Braves
-Field Level Medi