The Chicago Cubs have announced tomorrow’s starting pitchers for the double-header, and with it comes news that Drew Smyly will be returning from the bereavement list.
Per multiple reports, Smyly will return to start game one of the double-header tomorrow at 12pm CT, and then lefty Daniel Norris will take the game two start at 6:40pm CT.
Smyly was out this week, but has seen very good results so far in the Cubs’ rotation, posting a 2.79 ERA over four starts and 19.1 innings. The success is primarily due to exceptionally strong walk (3.8%) and groundball (54.8%) rates, and while you can certainly be a solid starter in that mold, if so many balls in play continues, he’s going to have a blow up start at some point. Just the reality of that command-control-groundball profile (which, by the way, he hasn’t necessarily been for his whole career).
Norris, 29, was signed as something of a swing man/bullpen reclamation type for the Cubs, and has not started regularly since 2019. He hasn’t appeared in a game in a week, so he’ll certainly be fresh. Who knows? Maybe the Cubs have stretched him out a little in between outings? Not that they could’ve been anticipating a double-header tomorrow, but they don’t really have a “fifth starter” until Wade Miley returns, so maybe Norris was going to be the next opener in any case.
My guess is Norris will be used primarily for the first time through the order, and then, if he’s cruising and efficient, might get another inning or so.
On the double-header day, the Cubs get to call up a 27th man, you’ll remember, but with Smyly returning from the bereavement list, that’ll be the move for the day (Robert Gsellman already came up). So what will most likely happen is that, depending on which reliever gets a ton of innings tomorrow in one of the games, you might see that guy optioned to Iowa when the Cubs have to go back down to 26 on Sunday. Guys like Gsellman and Norris cannot be optioned without their consent at this point in their careers due to 5+ years of service time.