The Chicago Cubs are in first place in the National League Central Division, despite having a struggling pitching staff. It appears that the Cubs are close to fixing their pitching issues, by adding three veterans back into the mix. Cubs pitchers, Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, and Drew Smyly are all trying to bounce back from injury, and all three could join the Major League team this month. The Cubs will need all three pitchers to be healthy and successful if they are going to make a deep playoff run.
Getting Yu Darvish healthy is priority number one for the Chicago Cubs. Darvish was brought to Chicago to be the ace of the staff, but has had a horrible 2018 season for the Cubs. Darvish threw a bullpen session on Saturday and stated that he was “very optimistic” about a return to the rotation this season. Darvish threw 55 pitches and was pain free both during and after his session on Saturday morning.
The Cubs signed Darvish to a six-year, $126 million dollar contract in the offseason after Darvish pitched deep into the postseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The veteran righty made just eight starts for the Cubs and was 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in those eight starts. The Cubs will need Darvish to be healthy and on top of his game as they begin the 2018 Playoffs. Darvish is scheduled to pitch a simulated game sometime next week.
The Cubs also hope to get closer, Brandon Morrow, back with the club sometime this month. Morrow signed with the Cubs this offseason and has been effective in the closer’s role with Chicago after being the setup man for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Morrow is currently on the disabled list with right biceps inflammation.
The hard-throwing right-hander played catch this week for the first time since July 18th. He had no soreness the next day, and could be headed out on a Minor League rehab assignment early next week. The 34-year-old has recorded 22 saves for Chicago this season, while posting an earned run average of 1.47. The Cubs have been using Pedro Strop as their closer in Morrow’s absence, but need Morrow back if they are going to reach a fourth straight NLCS.
Drew Smyly could be close to beginning a Minor League rehab assignment in hopes of making his 2018 Major League debut with the Cubs in August. Smyly threw two innings in a simulated game on Thursday, and the Cubs will know more this weekend. Smyly signed with the Cubs this offseason after sitting out the entire 2017 season after having Tommy John Surgery.
Smyly most recently pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016, and could pitch as a starter or reliever for the Cubs upon return. The lefty has a career record of 31-27 with a 3.74 earned run average in 156 appearances.
The Cubs lead the Milwaukee Brewers by 1 game in the NL Central Division entering Saturday. Chicago will host the San Diego Padres on Saturday afternoon.