Chicago Cubs: Five candidates to round out the starting rotation

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: An insurance option for the rotation

Prior to the 2018 campaign, Theo Epstein added Drew Smyly to the mix knowing full well he likely wouldn’t throw a pitch until next year.

At one point, it appeared he might make a late-season debut, but the team opted to hold off rather than rush him back to the mound and risk derailing his recovery. But he should head into 2019 completely healthy.

A former Tampa Bay Ray, Smyly is well-acquainted with both Maddon and second-year pitching coach Jim Hickey. The hope? That the left-hander can recapture some of the magic from 2014 and 2015, when he started to put things together with the Rays.

After being traded from Detroit to Tampa in the summer of 2014, the southpaw was dominant, pitching to a 1.70 ERA and 0.755 WHIP in seven starts. While not quite as effective the next season, he still made 12 starts and averaged noth of 10 strikeouts per nine.

The biggest risk with Smyly holding down the final spot in the staff is the innings limit he’ll likely face. By the time August and September roll around, he could be handcuffed, leaving Chicago to, once again, figure out who should round out the rotation.