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Chicago Cubs Starter Smyly Shifting Approach As MLB Season Looms

Chicago Cubs lefty Drew Smyly has been really good over his last two Spring Training outings as he continues to ramp up his workload.
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After four innings of baseball on Wednesday night, the Chicago Cubs were back at it under a cloudless sky at Sloan Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The pitching matchup featured a pair of lefties, with Drew Smyly making his fourth start of the spring against Madison Bumgarner. 

The latter left with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning. Per the rules of Spring Training, Bumgarner returned for the third and fourth innings. 

Outside of a pair of walks on the day, the veteran southpaw kept the Cubs' bats quiet.

Back for his second season in Chicago, Drew Smyly hopes to build off a strong second half of 2022. After the All-Star break, he posted a 2.83 ERA in 11 starts, coinciding with the team's second-half surge.

With all the rule changes this off-season, the lefty noted the challenges of adjusting to the pitch clock, which perhaps contributed to his first two spring outings.

"The pitch clock was way more of an adjustment than I thought it would be for me, to be honest with you," he said after his first start of the spring.

"I feel like I'm a pretty fast pitcher, I thought I was, but I felt myself definitely being rushed throughout these two innings, so it's just an adjustment that everybody's gonna have to figure it out."

However, including Thursday's start, the 33-year-old has been much better over his last two starts, tossing a combined 8.1 innings and fanning six batters.

It's that point in the spring when pitchers need to shift their approach to the regular season.

“You kinda have to quit tinkering with certain pitches or what not and just go try to win,” Smyly said. “That’s where my mindset’s at. Sometimes when you’re away from it for a while, you can lose that competitive edge. I think you have to talk yourself, even when it’s still spring, talk yourself back into — you gotta go get the hitter.”

“I feel like this time of Spring Training, everyone gets antsy to start playing for real,” the lefty said. “They want the games to start counting.”

On Thursday, Smyly set down the first three batters of the game before allowing a leadoff single in the second inning. He then retired the next two before picking off the runner at first.

He ran into trouble with two outs in the fourth, yielding a two-run home run to Caleb Roberts.

However, he bounced right back, fanning the next two batters before Cubs manager Davis Ross came out to get him.

The Cubs are back in action on Friday, with a split squad going against the Dodgers and White Sox. Hayden Wesneski will look to stay unblemished in the spring.

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