The Chicago Cubs had a lot of work to do in the offseason to re-stock their entire pitching staff and so far the results are mixed. The additions of Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek have boosted the bullpen, while Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood have been frustrating through the first two months. Yet, there’s another free agent signing that you might have forgotten about who could play a role down the stretch.
The Cubs took a chance on left-handed starter Drew Smyly, signing him to a two-year contract worth $10 million, with the expectation to see him pitch until 2019. Of course there was optimism that Smyly could return as soon as the end of the 2018 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but that’s always been the best case scenario.
Well, it turns out there’s a better case.
Smyly threw his second live batting practice against Cubs hitters Friday at Wrigley Field and there’s even more optimism that he could come back much sooner than first expected.
Via NBC Sports Chicago.
“I’ve still got a few more live BPs, and I’ll start doing some sim games in Arizona. Hopefully by early July, somewhere right around there, I can start a rehab assignment,” Smyly said. “I’m sure it’ll be like a whole month of building up. I just need innings, I need to go compete and face some hitters, but I look forward to it. It’s going to be a fun time when I’m pitching every five days.
Smyly has been both a starting pitcher and reliever throughout his career and could easily be compared to Mike Montgomery. Smyly has a 3.97 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 85 starts, while putting up a 2.47 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 71 appearances out of the bullpen.
The Cubs starting rotation doesn’t really have much room for another arm, even with Darvish on the DL, Montgomery has filled in and done a great job. Tyler Chatwood has struggled with his control, but because of that you can’t picture him being relegated to the bullpen.
However, you can never have too many arms with a bullpen that has already been heavily used through the first two weeks of June. Smyly, who is capable of pitching multiple innings in relief, could be yet another weapon for Joe Maddon late in the season.
But again, let’s be cautious because getting back from Tommy John surgery isn’t easy. The signs are great, though, and if the Cubs can get anything from Smyly in 2018, then it’d be a major win for both sides.