Cubs tap veteran Drew Smyly for one of the openings in the rotation

(Photo by Michael Zarrilli/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Zarrilli/Getty Images) /

The murkiness of the Cubs rotation heading into the season gained a bit of clarity in recent days, with Drew Smyly getting the nod from manager David Ross.

The veteran left-hander has tossed 4 2/3 frames this spring and has recorded 6 Ks to go along with a respectful 1.93 ERA since joining the Cubs 10 days ago, Taking a look back through Smyly’s career, it’s understandable why the team would roll the dice on him in the back end of the rotation.

In 2014, Smyly amassed 25 starts, tossing 153 innings on the year and recording a 3.24 ERA and 9-10 record between Detroit and Tampa Bay. Fast forward a year to 2015 and Smyly posted a 3.11 ERA and 5-2 record over 12 starts in his second year in Tampa.. After 2016, Smyly struggled to the tune of a 4.88 ERA as elbow issues crept in and he wound up not playing another game until 2019 after missing two full seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.

After making his return, it took Smyly another year to get into form as he finished with a career-worst 6.24 ERA and 4-7 record between Philadelphia and Texas in 2019. In 2020 with the Giants, though appearing in just 5 starts spanning 26 1/3 innings, Smyly got back to normal form and posted a 3.42 ERA, the best stretch of his career in the previous five years. In 2021, he started 23 games while posting a 11-4 record but struggled again with a 4.48 ERA.

Chicago Cubs: What does Drew Smyly need to do for the Cubs in 2022?

It’s been a roller coaster type of career for Smyly. He was turning into a very solid pitcher pre-elbow issues and TJ surgery. After missing two years recovering, I’m not the least bit surprised that it took a year for him to really get his legs back under him.

With a career ERA of 4.18, I presume the front office would be quite content if he can simply stay healthy and eat innings for the team. Over eight years in his career, Smyly owns a 4.18 ERA and 4.29 FIP. Coming out of the fourth or fifth spot of the rotation, his upside does induce intrigue. It’s simply a matter of which Smyly will the Cubs receive?

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Next. Predicting the 2022 MLB standings, division-by-division. dark

The Cubs in 2022, although projected to miss the postseason, will find themselves in a position to play spoiler and stay in the hunt thanks to a weak division, with the Reds recently gutting their team and Pittsburgh being Pittsburgh. Given the team’s position, there’s nothing to lose by taking a flyer on Smyly in hopes he can bounce back and contribute this year.