The Cubs made the decision Monday to shut lefty Drew Smyly down for the season, citing too little time left to get him ready for the playoffs. Pitching coach Jim Hickey said last week that Smyly had “run out of runway” in the minor league portion of his rehab and admitted it’d be difficult to get him into big league action given his minimal ramp-up time.
This isn’t an indictment of his health, since Smyly feels fine and is physically capable of pitching. We saw that clearly when he struck out the side for the South Bend Cubs in his first live action since the end of 2016 with the Rays. But that was also his last action, as a planned appearance with the Iowa Cubs was cancelled by rain. Huh, seems like that’s happening a lot lately.
Had the Cubs not dropped two of three in Washington to let the Brewers close to two games in the Central, the decision to shut Smyly down may have been different. A bigger lead might mean more wiggle room and the ability to let Smyly essentially rehab against weaker opponents in blowout games. Now, however, the Cubs don’t have that luxury.
While it was always a longshot that Smyly would come back this season to have a meaningful impact, things were looking promising there for a while. As such, it’s at least a little disappointing that the Cubs had to make this call. The good news, at least for those who’re willing to look beyond Monday’s tilt with Milwaukee, is that the southpaw will be ready to go for 2019 spring training.