Left-hander Drew Smyly threw a 25-pitch live batting practice session over the weekend and feels that he’s getting close to the end of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, writes Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription link). General manager Jed Hoyer and president of baseball ops Theo Epstein watched the session, and Hoyer tells Mooney that Smyly looked “free and easy” in his first throwing session against live hitters. “He is going to be in the back of our mind as we think through the rest of our season and how we approach both deadlines in July and August,” says Hoyer of Smyly, who is coming up on the one-year anniversary of his TJ surgery later this month. Mooney speaks with both Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon about the struggles of Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood thus far. Both expressed optimism that the righties can turn things around, though Hoyer acknowledged the importance of eventually getting into “sustained turn-after-turn consistency” in the starting rotation in order to best position the team to win the division and embark on a deep playoff run.
Here’s more out of the North Side of Chicago…
- Offseason pickups Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek have been outstanding for the Cubs, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago/670 The Score, but the team will need to eventually receive more innings out of its rotation if it is to sustain its current pace. Cishek is on pace for 80 appearances, while the trio of Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson are all on pace for 72 to 75 games pitched. Levine speculates that both Kelvin Herrera and Brad Hand will be deadline targets for the Cubs, writing that Chicago tried to pry Hand away from the Padres last summer but balked when San Diego asked for Javier Baez in return. Levine chatted with an NL East scout to get an opinion on both Herrera and Hand, each of whom is off to a brilliant start in 2018.
- Epstein spoke with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times about his team’s approach to the 2018 trade deadline, noting that it’s still too early to assess just what type of players the Cubs will pursue. Epstein noted that in some seasons, it’s clear what areas of need a team will need to address for months in advance, but he doesn’t feel that to be the case with his 2018 club. “[A]s talented and as deep as we are in most areas, it’s more about observation and maintenance and trying to stay ahead of the depth areas,” said the Cubs president. Epstein noted that maintaining starting pitching depth is especially important but characterized that as more of a “contingency” than a need, adding that the team isn’t looking to supplant any of its starters. Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs plan to check in with the Orioles on Manny Machado once he’s more aggressively being shopped. However, the left side of the infield isn’t a need for the Cubs like it is for other teams, and Wittenmyer feels it’s “doubtful” that Chicago will be among the most aggressive suitors.