Cubs name Drew Smyly Game 4 starter for opening series vs. Brewers

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly is scheduled to take the mound Sunday against the Brewers, manager David Ross announced on the final day of spring training camp.

With that news Tuesday, the Cubs’ rotation came into focus for the four-game opening series. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks is set to start Thursday, on Opening Day at Wrigley Field, followed by lefty Justin Steele, righty Marcus Stroman and Smyly.

“It’s going to be an exciting year,” Smyly said. “Hopefully we get off to a hot start and just can roll with it.”

The Cubs have an off day next Monday, so they don’t need a fifth starter until the second time through the rotation.

Right-hander Alec Mills, who was scheduled to start a simulated game on Tuesday, has experience in a swingman role. As Smyly continues to build up his workload, Mills could come in as a multi-inning reliever on Sunday – or before – and potentially join the rotation at the end of the week.

Veteran left-hander Wade Miley (elbow inflammation) is expected to start the season on the injured list.

Smyly signed with the Cubs this spring, rejoining the organization after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery with the Cubs in 2018. But he never played for Chicago.

“It’s always been an intriguing spot to come back,” Smyly said after signing. “Not to mention the city and the atmosphere at Wrigley. I spent a whole summer there and didn’t get to play. But I know how fun it is to take that field. So, it’s always kind of a little sad for me I didn’t get a chance to do that when I was here first.”

Cubs embrace tradition

Major League Baseball has approved PitchCom for the regular season, but the Cubs will communicate pitch calls by more traditional means.

PitchCom is a wearable pitch-calling device that teams had access to this spring, as sign stealing and pace of play have taken the spotlight in recent years.

“I’ve already seen a couple people get crossed up that are using it,” Ross said. “So as of right now, if anybody feels like we want to integrate that, we will. That’s probably a process for later in the year or next year for us, from all the feedback that I get.”

Ross added that the Cubs’ catchers weren’t as comfortable using the devices as others on teams that have decided to embrace the technology. The use of PitchCom is optional for teams.

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