Cubs shut down Drew Smyly for the season


Just a week ago, there was still hope that the Cubs would be able to add Drew Smyly to their bullpen for the home stretch of the regular season, but news on Monday from team president Theo Epstein quashed that.

Speaking to reporters from the dugout at Wrigley Field, Epstein announced that Smyly would not be returning to the active roster in 2018.

"We had a conversation with him the other day where we shut him down for the season," Epstein said. "He did a great job to get back, fought through a lot of obstacles. Pitched a minor-league game, pitched a clean inning, which was awesome for him. He wanted to keep pushing and he really wanted badly to help this team, but realistically, we ran out of time. Ran out of minor-league games."

There had been the possibility that Smyly could pitch with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Labor Day, but a rainout there eliminated any chance of Smyly pitching in another minor league rehab assignment after his August 30 appearance with the Single-A South Bend affiliate.

"We want him to have a normal offseason, and he's been rehabbing for a long, long time," Epstein said. "We want him to have the benefit of a rest and a full winter to come back."

With only 20 games remaining on the schedule and Smyly not likely to be able to make back-to-back appearances, there would have been little opportunity for him to get back to full strength in time for the playoffs. Without that as an option, the choice to shelve Smyly was a little easier.

"Once we got to the point of ruling him out as a postseason roster candidate because he couldn't pitch back-to-back games, it really helped dictate the decision for us," Epstein said.

It wasn't an easy choice, Epstein admitted, especially because Smyly had worked so hard and was pushing hard to make at least one appearance in the majors this season, an important mental milestone for someone on such a long road of recovery.

In the end, however, the value of each of the remaining 20 games was too great for such an opportunity, and Epstein said that Smyly understood.

"At this point in the season, we have 20 games left, [and] every game is really important, we don't necessarily have that luxury. Also, it would cost someone their roster spot, so we didn't want to do that," Epstein said. "We just felt it was more important to end his season in order to get him the right kind of rest going forward, so we took it out of his hands. He felt strongly about wanting to push and contribute, but after explaining it to him, he accepted it and understands that we're operating on his best interest."

Smyly has not pitched since 2016 thanks to a left elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery over a year ago, and Epstein said that the plan for 2019 will be for him to go in to spring training as a starter.

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