You know, it was probably worth a shot.
After Drew Smyly threw well in three relief appearances, the Cubs needed to find out whether he could return to the rotation and be as effective as he was earlier this year.
Welp. They got the answer, in a definitive fashion. Smyly got pounded for eight hits, three walks and seven runs, including a pair of homers and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. The Cubs did try to fight back, but eventually dropped the game, 8-6 to the Tigers.
The second Detroit hitter of the game, Andy Ibañez, homered off Smyly, and they scored one more in that inning and another in the second to take a 3-0 lead.
Give the Cubs credit, they came back and took the lead in the top of the fourth. Ian Happ led off with a walk and one out later, Dansby Swanson hit his 19th home run of the season [VIDEO].
Seiya Suzuki followed that with a single and then Jeimer Candelario hit the Cubs’ second two-run homer of the inning [VIDEO].
Candelario’s second homer as a Cub was his 18th of the year and the Cubs had a 4-3 lead. And that ball was crushed! [VIDEO]
Welp. That lasted about five minutes, because Smyly got hit hard in the bottom of the fourth. A walk and two singles tied the game and then Ibañez took Smyly deep again, a three-run blast that gave Detroit a 7-4 lead. One out later, Smyly issued a walk and that was enough for David Ross, who replaced Smyly with Hayden Wesneski, who got out of the inning with no further damage.
The Cubs made it closer in the fifth. Mike Tauchman led off the inning with a walk and two outs later, Cody Bellinger doubled him to third.
That’s as close as the Cubs could get. They went down 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh. One thing worth looking at during those innings, if you didn’t see it, or again if you did, was Wesneski’s stab of a line drive by Jake Rogers to end the sixth [VIDEO].
The Cubs had a chance to score in the eighth. With two out, Suzuki singled and Candelario doubled him to third. A hit could have given the Cubs the lead, but Christopher Morel grounded out to end the inning. After that, Jose Cuas got himself in trouble with walks and two hit batters in the bottom of the eighth. The second of those forced in a run to make it 8-6, and former Cubs prospect Alex Lange, now Detroit’s closer, finished off things in the ninth, allowing just a one-out single by Nick Madrigal.
About Smyly: I have no idea what’s wrong with him, but as the headline says, he can’t start any more games, you can’t just give away games like this. In 12 starts since May 28, he has an ERA of 8.06, a 1.879 WHIP and 17 home runs allowed in 58 innings. The Cubs are 3-9 in those games. I’d think Wesneski would have done better, and that’s who I’d have take this spot in the rotation the rest of the year. Wesneski threw well in this game and over his last eight MLB appearances, he has a 2.57 ERA and 1.214 WHIP and has struck out 16 in 14 innings. Time to give him a chance. Smyly, as noted, has actually thrown pretty well in relief and the Cubs don’t have any other lefthanders in the bullpen.
As has been the case for some other recent Cubs losses, this one wasn’t the end of the world. The Cubs remain in second place in the N.L. Central, though now 3½ games behind the Brewers. They also retain the second wild card spot, a fraction of a percentage point ahead of the Diamondbacks and half a game ahead of the Giants and Reds. The Cubs have 37 games remaining.
They’ll have a chance to shake this one off and win the series in Detroit in just a few hours. Jameson Taillon will start for the Cubs in the series finale and Tarik Skubal goes for the Tigers. Game time is 12:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Tigers market territories).
Today’s BCB game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.