How the Cubs’ Rotation Looks with Return of Drew Smyly

The Cubs have been quite active this offseason, as Chicago has upgraded its lineup and rotation in recent weeks. Chicago will return one of the team’s starters from last season, in left-hander Drew Smyly. Smyly has inked a two-year deal to return to the Cubs. With Smyly returning to Chicago, let’s take a look at the left-hander’s 2022 campaign and how the Cubs’ rotation looks to begin 2023.

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A Look at Smyly

Drew Smyly‘s repertoire won’t blow anyone away, but the left-hander knows how to use his stuff effectively. Smyly mainly used three pitches in 2022: a sinker, cut fastball, and a curveball. The left-hander also possesses a changeup, but that pitch was barely used last season.

Smyly’s best pitch is a curveball that sits in the high-70’s and low-80’s.While his curve doesn’t have premier spin or movement, the left-hander does get a fair amount of whiffs on it. Smyly recorded a 32.7% Whiff% rate on the curveball last season, thanks to good control and command of the pitch that has allowed the lefty to beat hitters down in the zone.

Smyly used the pitch to the tune to 42.9% during the 2022 campaign, the most the lefty has used it in a season.

Great control was the theme for Smyly in 2022. The left-hander posted a tidy 5.8% BB% rate last season, well below the league average of 8.4%. Not to mention, Smyly posted above-average figures in Weak% (5.5%) and Under% (27.4%) contact rates last season.

Opposing hitters had a hard time squaring up Smyly last season, something that the Cubs hope will be the case once again in 2023. Smyly will re-join a Cubs’ rotation that will look a bit different for next season, but also return a number of names that performed well in 2022

What it Means

With the return of Smyly, here’s a look at the Cubs’ rotation options for 2023:

In addition to those six names, the Cubs also have right-handed pitchers Keegan Thompson and Hayden Wesneski as starting pitcher options for next season.

The newest name on this list is Jameson Taillon, a former second overall pick who inked a four-deal with Chicago a few weeks back. Like Smyly, Taillon doesn’t possesses amazing velocity, but does have above-average control and can get hitters to chase.

Even though the Cubs didn’t have a star-studded rotation last season, Chicago’s group of starters performed quite well. The Cubs had five starters (Stroman, Smyly, Steele, Sampson, Thompson) that threw at least 100 innings in 2022. Each one ended the season with an ERA below 4.00. Should Chicago receive similar production in 2023, the Cubs could be a team to watch in the NL Central.

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