Throughout the 2018 season, the Chicago Cubs expected expected left-hander Drew Smyly could eventually contribute to the Chicago Cubs out of the bullpen.
When the Chicago Cubs signed Drew Smyly as a free agent in the offseason prior to the 2018 season, he was not expected to contribute much immediately. The left-hander was going through the recovery process from Tommy John surgery, and he would not be available to pitch at the start of the season.
However, many still expected Smyly would eventually contribute to the Cubs in some way in 2018. He underwent Tommy John in July 2017, so with over a year of recovery time, there was always the chance he could return and contribute out of the bullpen towards the end of the 2018 season.
On Monday, though, any hopes of a Smyly return were dashed, as it was widely reported that he would be shut down for the remainder of the 2018 season. No reason was cited other than that there was just not enough time for him to make a proper return.
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Not a big surprise
Although the news about Smyly may have disappointed some, it is not really all that surprising. Smyly has been throwing recently, but with all the minor league regular seasons concluded, there would be no opportunity for him to make a rehab start before returning to the big leagues.
Sure, the Cubs could have used some help out of the bullpen, especially from the left side, as Justin Wilson has really been the only reliable lefty reliever.
But would it be worth risking a setback for Smyly, who might not even be ready for game action yet, much less the postseason? Most likely, the Cubs decided it would not be worth it, and probably rightfully so. They are going to have to get by with the bullpen they have, as Smyly probably would not have made it into Joe Maddon‘s circle of trust in time for the postseason anyway.
Plenty of potential for 2019
Even with Monday’s somewhat disappointing news, though, there is still plenty of hope for Smyly’s future in Chicago. Now that he is being shut down for 2018, he will most certainly be ready to return for spring training in 2019, barring a setback.
And when he does return, he could be a big weapon for the Cubs in the rotation. He has had an accomplished big league career, with a 3.74 career ERA in six big league seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays.
With Jon Lester continuing to age, more help from the left side will be of great value to the Cubs in the coming season. Smyly is just 29 years old and thus could be a young asset for the Cubs next season. The Cubs owners made a smart decision in acquiring Smyly to help the Cubs in the future. Sure, there was always the hope that he would contribute in 2018, but that was never a guarantee.
The news that Smyly will be shut down isn’t all bad. And while at this dire part of the season, with the Cubs in a dogfight for the division title, it would have been exciting to have another arm to add to the mix, it’s best Smyly not risk it and instead take the time to prepare to be a force in the 2019 rotation.