The Chicago Cubs continue to prioritize winning at the Major League level as they look to make the postseason for the first time since 2020 and that likely is the driving force behind the decision that manager David Ross announced on Wednesday.
Smyly had a hot start to the season and provided instant gratification in the Cubs' decision to bring him back on a two-year deal but his season has fallen off the rails.
Smyly has a 5.05 ERA on the season in 23 appearances (21 starts) and his FIP of 5.11 further emphasizes the struggles that the veteran starting pitcher has had. Over the course of the past month, the Cubs seemingly have lost confidence in Smyly as they turned to an opener for two of his recent starts with the veteran serving as the piggyback option.
With the Cubs having three off days over the course of the next week, the team is in a position where they do not need a fifth starter at the moment. Assuming Marcus Stroman is able to take his next turn in the starting rotation after Javier Assad starts in his place on Friday, the Cubs likely will not need a fifth starter until the final week of August.
Once the Cubs are in need of a fifth starter, despite what Ross may suggest, it would seem unlikely that Smyly will get that opportunity.
Assad or Hayden Wesneski likely will be the next man up in the starting rotation. While Assad has filled in the starting rotation for Stroman, Wesneski was stretched out in Triple-A for a return to the Major League rotation. Wesneski replacing Smyly as the team's fifth starter would allow for Assad to return to his multi-inning role in the bullpen once Stroman is healthy.