Smyly Flips the Switch, Next Up for Stroman, Cubs Take a Big Leap, PCA Wrecks, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Smyly Flips the Switch, Next Up for Stroman, Cubs Take a Big Leap, PCA Wrecks, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Whew. Almost left the house today without wearing green. That is a CRIME.

  • I was glad to hear from Drew Smyly that he was indeed kinda flipping the switch yesterday into “compete” mode, rather than continuing to tinker with pitches. That’s how it looked to me watching, and I really liked I what I was seeing from Smyly. So it’s good to know that yesterday’s version of Smyly is what it looks like – as of this moment – when he’s using all his pitches to maximize outs. So much of the rest of the rotation takes up the oxygen for understandable reasons that we don’t talk a lot about how good Smyly was last year, how he’s reinvented himself as such a strong contact manager because of the outsized use of the curveball, and how important it would be for him to be good (or at least average) again this year.
  • Marcus Stroman will start today’s quarterfinal match-up between Team Puerto Rico and Team Mexico at 6pm CT. Julio Urias starts for Mexico, but maybe Javier Assad will relieve him at some point, and we’ll get a Cubs-v-Cubs matchup.
  • Team Puerto Rico will be trying to rebound from the devastating Edwin Diaz injury, which happened while celebrating their big win over the Dominican Republic. As for Diaz, who’ll miss most or all of the year following patellar tendon surgery:
  • This number blows my mind:
  • Mike Petriello writes about seven teams with losing records in 2022 that could jump into the playoffs this year, with the Cubs showing up at the bottom of that list. In recent years, 1 to 4 teams pull off the feat, so it’s hardly impossible. Here’s what Petriello said about the Cubs (whom FanGraphs gives just a 10% shot at making the playoffs):

7. Cubs (10%)

Why it will be them: Because the NL Central doesn’t exactly have a super-team, and because after two nondescript years in the wilderness, the Cubs have made some moves to improve, most notably in Dansby Swanson, but also in Trey Mancini, Jameson Taillon, Michael Fulmer, Cody Bellinger and Tucker Barnhart. It’s fair to expect more from Seiya Suzuki in year two, and they already got Marcus Stroman last year. Maybe Matt Mervis shows up and rakes; maybe the pitching factory starts churning out more success. They should be more interesting, at the very least, and competitive, too.

Why it won’t be them: Because, given the fact that the East and West divisions have at least five teams likely stronger than the Cubs, this is division-or-bust – and St. Louis and Milwaukee won’t make that easy.

  • Hard to say any of that does not track. I’d probably also note the improved defense in there, and the potential for that to help the pitching overperform (which would be necessary, realistically, for the Cubs to make the playoffs this year).
  • Everything you hear and read from folks with the Cubs about Mike Tauchman strongly suggests that the 32-year-old non-roster invite is going to be making this team, and probably making some early-season starts in right field against right-handed starters.
  • A back fields thread of PCA just wrecking stuff because it’s fun:
  • We’re hosting a live event in Wrigleyville on April 6, so consider this your early heads up, as space will be limited:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.