RelyEx Solutions

Less than Truckload shipping company in Chicago, IL

Statistics from the US Department of Transportation show more than 700,000 registered motor carriers are traversing our highways and roads. These trucks, which can be packed with everything from bricks and stone to dog food and grocery items, keep thousands of American businesses afloat. For business owners shipping these products across the country, precise planning and high-level tracking are required. But with increasing rates and a wide range of delays to overcome, overseeing a shipment of LTL freight is easier said than done.

For overworked business owners, managing multiple shipments can seem impossible in today's freight landscape. But the reality is that many businesses rely on less-than-truckload shipments to keep their doors open. When these shipments are compromised, their business is too. But there's a viable solution: LTL freight brokers in Chicago, IL like RelyEx provide reliable solutions to common LTL shipment problems, eliminating the stress and worry of LTL shipping.

With more than 30 combined years of LTL experience and a solutions-oriented team, RelyEx is your go-to choice for streamlined, efficient LTL shipping services. To understand the true value of RelyEx's less-than-truckload shipping options, it helps to understand first what LTL shipping is and why it's used.

Service Areas

LTL Freight Shipping Chicago, IL

ShippingThe Basics of LTL Freight Shipping

In the freight industry, LTL stands for "less-than-truckload." It is a widely-used method of transportation for smaller shipments that don't require the space of a full truckload. In an LTL shipment, several customers' loads are placed onto one truck, which helps reduce how much it costs to ship those products.

In fact, if your freight doesn't fill an entire trailer but weighs 150-15,000 lbs., LTL freight shipping in Chicago, IL, may be the most efficient, cost-conscious way to transport your products. That's because, in an LTL setup, you're only paying for the space your freight takes up. LTL shipping companies like RelyEx optimize LTL loads by choosing the most efficient routes at the best rates so your cargo gets to where it needs to go without any issues.

Business owners often choose LTL freight services in the following circumstances:

  • When freight is dense, large, or bulky
  • Freight exceeds a weight of 150 pounds
  • Crated or palletized shipments
  • When freight passes through distribution centers and local terminals
  • When a cost-effective freight solution is needed
  • When an entire tractor-trailer isn't needed for shipments

When it comes to LTL delivery options, there are a lot to choose from. But not every LTL broker is created equally. Some LTL companies do not have the tools or technology to track your shipments and optimize your routes. In worst-case scenarios, they may not be insured or reliable. If you're looking for an experienced LTL carrier that exceeds expectations with time-tested strategies and innovative technologies, look no further than RelyEx.

DifferenceThe RelyEx Difference

With more than two decades of experience in LTL operations, our team utilizes the power of GlobalTranz to compare rates across hundreds of approved carriers in the blink of an eye, while also providing the most cost-effective options for moving your freight. When you choose RelyEx for LTL shipping, you can leverage our expert team to handle your shipments. You can also manage the process yourself via GTZShip, which is Globaltranz's user-friendly management system. With GTZShip, you can access and compare LTL shipping rates, track your shipments, and manage your financials, all from one intuitive platform.

When it comes to LTL freight in Chicago, IL, clients trust their products with RelyEx for many reasons, including the following:

 No-Cost LTL Freight Chicago, IL
 LTL Freight Management Chicago, IL

Industry-Leading Rates

Because GTZShip keeps outsized freight available, it can negotiate the best LTL rates on your behalf. Our clients can access these extra-low rates in one of two ways:

  • Work directly with our team of LTL shipping experts
  • Book your freight directly through GTZShip

Regardless of the option you choose, RelyEx's knowledgeable customer care reps will cover all of your LTL shipping options, so you can make an informed shipping and purchasing decision for your freight.

No-Cost LTL Freight Management Technology

Yes, you read that right - in addition to giving you access to industry-leading rates, RelyEx's partnership with GTZShip gives you full management of your freight. We're talking about access to reporting, tracking, and much more. This extensive visibility is essentially a one-stop shop for everything related to the status of your freight.

Unlike some LTL shipping software, this system requires no contracts or signup fees, making it simple to provide quotes and book immediately when you're ready. Whether you use GTZShip directly or rely on our team to book your freight, your company will always have access to this free technology.

 LTL Company Chicago, IL
 LTL Shipping Chicago, IL

Commitment to the Customer and Quality

While it's true that RelyEx provides customers with the best rates and technology in the LTL industry, we go above and beyond the normal call of duty. Why? Because we strive to treat your shipment as if it's our most important one. Put simply, we put a lot of time and effort into making sure we do things right the first time around. Our fierce commitment to the customer and to quality protects not only your reputation, but your bottom line by preventing lost customers and sales.

RelyEx excels at LTL shipping because we are:

  • Proactive problem solvers
  • Reliable partners who manage your LTL freight from beginning to end
  • Partners with strong vendor relationships
  • Attuned to client needs, with 30+ years of combined experience on the client side
  • Committed to accuracy, promptness of information, and transparency with every transaction

From dedicated LTL solutions to transactional relationships, RelyEx is here to help. Unlike other LTL companies, we get the job done right with customer-focused service, industry expertise, and Globaltranz's industry-leading Transportation Management System.

Expertise and Reliability When You Need It Most

Our dedicated team of LTL specialists provides you with the best freight visibility available, whether you need a few shipments a week or you need hundreds. In order to do so, we communicate with carriers throughout the entire shipping process, so you know your items are delivered on time. Though rare, if we spot an issue, we'll provide you with an alternative solution immediately.

Plus, if you have large quantities that need to be shipped, our team is happy to provide you with customized reporting for free. That way, you can access at-the-moment updates and important shipment documentation with a few clicks or taps.

 Shipping LTL Freight Chicago, IL

Popular Methods of Shipping LTL Freight in Chicago, IL

Depending on where and how often you ship LTL freight, your broker may choose a regional or national LTL carrier. Regional carriers often service a group of states within a region. National carriers have a larger footprint and can often eliminate the need to use several carriers for your shipments. RelyEx has the infrastructure and strategies for all of your LTL shipping - contact our office today to learn more about your options.

Though regional and national carriers are different, they often use similar models for shipping. Two of the most popular types of shipping methods include hub and spoke distribution and LTL consolidation.

 LTL Shipping Partner Chicago, IL

What is Hub and Spoke LTL Freight Shipping?

In this traditional model, your shipments go through a network of warehouses, terminals, and hub facilities where your products are grouped with other shipments. Your freight then travels to local "spokes" (or terminals), where they are delivered. If you need to ship freight over short distances, this model may be a good choice to consider.

Some common benefits of the hub and spoke model include:

  • Economical and efficient
  • Improved pickup times
  • More regular delivery times
  • More visibility and easy tracking
LTL Freight Shipping Chicago, IL
 No-Cost LTL Freight Chicago, IL

What is Consolidated LTL Freight Shipping?

LTL consolidated shipping is a model where LTL carriers bring several shipments from different shippers to a final destination. Instead of using hubs and spokes along the shipping route to bundle freight and move cargo, LTL consolidation works by taking multiple shipments and turning them into a single truckload. This truck then makes multiple stops, where your products are delivered.

Some of the most common benefits of LTL consolidation include:

  • Less freight handling
  • Good for fragile or large freight
  • Fewer claims
  • Less cargo damage
  • Cost-effective pricing

At RelyEx, our goal is to expertly manage the movement of your freight so you can focus on your core business. With more than 20 years of combined experience with LTL freight shipping in Chicago, IL, our team can select the most efficient and cost-effective model for your needs. That way, you can accomplish your day-to-day tasks while we handle the heavy lifting and any logistical challenges.

An LTL Shipping Partner You Can Trust

At RelyEx, we believe that trustworthy, comprehensive, and streamlined LTL shipping options are better for your business. And for us, what's better for your business is better for ours. That's why, when it comes to LTL shipping, we work tirelessly to ensure every aspect of your freight experience is embedded excellence. We take this unique approach because our management were once customers like you. They were people who, for one reason or another, had to deal with frustrating and often unsolved shipping and logistics challenges. Today, we take pride in solving those challenges and only partner with carriers who match our high standards.

If you're looking for an LTL company in Chicago, IL that prioritizes customer service, strong communication, and proactive thinking, we're here to help you avoid delayed shipments and missed expectations.

phone-number(843) 885-3082


Latest News in Chicago, IL

Astros storm back in walk-off for 'win of the year'

HOUSTON -- If Astros manager Dusty Baker were to hand out a game ball Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park, he would have needed to bring a case of them.There was the two-run home run in the ninth inning by Jake Meyers that gave the Astros some life, the pinch-hit walk by Mauricio Dubón in the next at-bat, followed by the clutch double ...

HOUSTON -- If Astros manager Dusty Baker were to hand out a game ball Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park, he would have needed to bring a case of them.

There was the two-run home run in the ninth inning by Jake Meyers that gave the Astros some life, the pinch-hit walk by Mauricio Dubón in the next at-bat, followed by the clutch double by Jeremy Peña, and five relievers combining for 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. And don’t forget about Kyle Tucker, whose bases-loaded, walk-off single in the ninth scored a pair to complete the Astros’ frantic 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Cubs.

The Astros had enough heroes to fill a comic book, erasing a 6-1 deficit by scoring twice in the eighth and four times in the ninth to sweep the Cubs and win their season-high fourth game in a row.

“I always say, 'If you can win the eighth and ninth, you’ve got a chance to win the ballgame,'” Baker said. “Boy, we had some heroes over heroes tonight. The guys came through. It was a wonderful win. It was the win of the year. That’s great, especially right before an off day, too. The thing I appreciate is not many of the fans left.”

No one could have blamed them for leaving in the eighth. When the Cubs were retired in the top of the eighth, they had a 98-percent chance of winning. RBI hits by Alex Bregman (3-for-4 with a homer) and José Abreu cut the lead to 6-3 heading to the ninth. Still, the Astros were 0-17 this season when trailing after eight innings.

“I think it just shows the character of these guys of never stopping and continuing to fight,” Bregman said. “Obviously, we got down in a big hole early, but our bullpen came in and did a really good job leaving it there. The offense just continued to battle all day long.”

Meyers’ two-run homer off Keegan Thompson in the ninth cut the lead to 6-5 and gave the Astros hope with the top of the lineup coming up. Dubón’s walk, Peña’s double and an intentional walk to Bregman -- the Cubs wanted lefty Brandon Hughes to face lefty sluggers Yordan Alvarez and Tucker, while setting up a forceout at all bases -- loaded the bases with no outs.

“Sometimes, in the ninth inning, when you’re down three, homers can be rally killers,” Bregman said. “Dubón comes in off the bench and puts together a good at-bat and works a 3-2 walk, and Peña probably had the biggest hit of the ninth inning with that double [and Dubón] going first to third. I think it was a good all-around team win.”

Said Baker: “All you can ask for is an opportunity and a chance. We had the big boys coming up in the middle of the order and they came through.”

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Alvarez hit into a fielder’s choice that cut down the runner at the plate, but Tucker lined a single to center to score Peña and Bregman to win the game, giving Houston its first walk-off win of the season. The Cubs challenged the call at the plate, but the replay showed Bregman was safe.

“It’s really nice collectively having a lot of good ABs there in the ninth against some really good pitchers,” said Tucker, who delivered his third career walk-off hit. “It’s kind of the bright spot in coming back against a really good team.”

Things looked grim for the Astros after rookie starter J.P. France, making his first start at home, was rocked for six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings, giving up two homers to Seiya Suzuki and one to Christopher Morel.

“We’ll have to look at video to see if I was tipping or something,” France said. “I could talk about that all I want. At the end of the day, we pulled one out and got the sweep. It was a good game.”

The Astros didn’t have a hit with a runner in scoring position until the eighth inning, but were 7-for-11 with two walks in their 13 plate appearances in the eighth and ninth innings.

Houston has scored 81 runs in the seventh inning or later this season, which leads the AL.

“That last inning, I got a good dugout [seat] for a great comeback, for the important runs,” Meyers said. “Peña, huge hit there. Huge double. What a swing by Tuck. That was fun to watch.”

Houston has scored 81 runs in the seventh inning or later this season, which leads the AL.

“That last inning, I got a good dugout [seat] for a great comeback, for the important runs,” Meyers said. “Peña, huge hit there. Huge double. What a swing by Tuck. That was fun to watch.”

Suburbs in Chicago and elsewhere are aspiring to out-city the city

An ad filled with smiling young adults beckons you to live where “the c...

An ad filled with smiling young adults beckons you to live where “the coffee is perfect.” There, you can explore “urban-esque” shops and try on new outfits with your besties. You’ll walk to your workplace, a “caffeine-fueled think tank,” to meet your project’s “impossible due date.” When your work day is done, wine and garlic toast await.

When I read this, I wondered: Who is the you? And where is this work hard, play hard wonderland set?

River North in 2000? The West Loop in 2015? Lincoln Yards in 2030?

Nope. Schaumburg — one of a growing list of suburbs in Chicagoland and around the nation that aspire to out-city the city.


There’s a history behind this movement, and the 225-acre site of Schaumburg’s Veridian project is rich with lessons. In 1976, Motorola built its bucolic world headquarters campus there when such sites were billed as the anti-city. Calm and green, they were seen as an escape from the perceived over-density, overpriced and overtaxed real estate, racial tensions, labor disputes and stress associated with urban locations. They were exclusive, predictable, secure islands — that was the whole point. Firms like UrbanStreet Group LLC, Veridian’s developer, view this era as a low point.

By the early 1990s, a pattern of office development similar to Schaumburg’s had emerged nationally. “Edge cities,” as journalist Joel Garreau called such places, were unique. But different uses were still separated into tidy zones — and people of different incomes didn’t mix.

By the 2000s, global corporations were returning to the city. This time around, they wanted less isolated, more collaborative spaces with nearby amenities for entertainment and leisure. A new generation of white collar workers wanted to live near work. In Chicago, once-devalued land around the Loop was coveted by developers who pitched new residential projects for higher income residents. Motorola was again in step with the times when it moved parts of its pared-down firm to various sites in the Loop.

These days, office development is occurring in the suburbs, but with a twist. Championed by the design philosophy known as “new urbanism,” some of this development involves retrofitting sprawled suburbs with dense, walkable communities that integrate retail, residences, and employment.

For developers committed to this type of infill, a project in a more agile and resourced suburb can be less cumbersome than a similar project in the city. Schaumburg created a tax-increment financing district for its Veridian effort and offered tax break deals for Zurich North America and Motorola Solutions to serve as employment anchors.

The Veridian ad bills the “urban-feeling aesthetic” as the “new [sub]urban experience,” nestled in the “bustling northwest suburbs.” Neighboring Hoffman Estates is also transforming its 150-acre, former AT&T campus to channel “classic neighborhoods such as Chicago’s Lincoln Park and Brooklyn’s Park Slope.” Both developments claim to curate “the best of urban environments,” as UrbanStreet Group put it.

It’s a fascinating moment when suburbs are staking claim to the “best” of the urban. But my foundational concern is more pragmatic: Who is included in this vision?

As the city-suburb gap in household income narrows and U.S. poverty becomes more suburban, the ad’s claim to “togetherness” must include an array of income groups.

In a brochure for one particular building, UrbanStreet Group says that as “Veridian develops, the wide range of uses translates directly into a diversity of users — putting us all closer to people with different histories, ages, socioeconomic statuses and racial makeup.”

Alas, students of development know that mixed use doesn’t translate directly into mixed users. It takes intentionality from the municipality, county and state if diversity is to be more than a marketing tool, especially when it comes to socioeconomic status. In a housing system with more carrots than sticks, luxury is simply a safer bet.

Still, recent policies have put affordable housing on the suburban agenda more than it used to be and recent policy tools (such as the 2021 Affordable Housing Special Assessment Program) have made it more tenable for developers.

Do we believe walkable, dense, mixed-use communities where neighbors of different backgrounds know each other are important enough to be supported by public money?

Then shouldn’t the server in the ad offering a “second glass of wine” to patrons who live nearby be able to walk a few blocks home too?

John Joe Schlichtman, an associate professor of urban sociology at DePaul University, is co-author of “Gentrifier” and author of “Showroom City

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CBS calls Bears 'potential landing spot' for Quinnen Williams

CBS calls Bears 'potential landing spot' for Quinnen Williams originally appeared on ...

CBS calls Bears 'potential landing spot' for Quinnen Williams originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Quinnen Williams, the New York Jets All-Pro defensive tackle, doesn't seem happy in New York.

The Jets picked up Williams' fifth-year option last offseason, slating the defensive tackle to make just under $10 million this season. But the recent All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection desires a long-term contract from the Jets.

He's made cryptic moves lately via social media. He changed his Twitter biography to "Defensive Tackle for ………………." giving off the impression he could be a DT for any team in the future.

Williams also quoted a GIF of him drinking tea commenting on the Jets general manager Joe Douglas saying he's "optimistic" about agreeing on a new deal with Williams.

Amid all the mystery, CBS drew out potential trade suitors for Williams if it comes to the worst for the Jets. And the first team listed was the Chicago Bears.

"Chicago passed on selecting defensive lineman Jalen Carter at the NFL Draft and instead moved down to take offensive tackle Darnell Wright," CBS' Tyler Sullivan wrote. "They did bring aboard a couple of defensive tackles on Day 2 with Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens, but could stand to improve that piece of their defense even more."

"At just 25 years old, Williams would fit seamlessly into the Bears' young nucleus, and head coach Matt Eberflus, a former defensive coordinator, would certainly love to bring in a player of this caliber to help jumpstart their defense for 2023 and beyond. The Bears also currently have the most cap space in the NFL and could give Williams the contract he seeks."

RELATED: Schrock: Young trade won't be answer to Bears' pass-rush problems

As Sullivan said, the Bears addressed the defensive line in part by drafting Dexter Jr. and Pickens. They also added DeMarcus Walker and Andrew Billings in free agency. Dexter and Pickens, while rookies, are expected to contribute immediately.

But there's no guarantee they'll live up to those expectations.

Dexter Jr. didn't produce much in Florida. He claimed the Gators' defensive system was partially the fault for his lack of production. Over his three-year career, he recorded five sacks and 125 tackles – not exactly reputable for a second-round pick.

Pickens, similar to Dexter Jr., recorded 7.5 sacks in the SEC with South Carolina. That's over four years in college, too. The Bears' draft picks are reliant on athletic ability, displaying confidence in their ability to develop players who possess the unreachable traits of NFL players.

Remember, Matt Eberflus and the Bears have stressed the importance of the three-technique position as the "engine" in their 4-3 defensive. Williams would notch the position for the Bears long-term.

Last season, Williams recorded 12 sacks and was responsible for three turnovers. As aforementioned, he earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections for the first time in his career, along with the seventh-most votes for Defensive Player of the Year.

According to the CBS story, Williams acknowledged a Tweet about Dexter Lawrence's four-year $90 million extension. Sullivan believes Williams is searching for a similar contract value. And as he said, the Bears have the cap space to make it happen.

The question, however, remains – would the Bears be willing to cede assets to trade for him?

Ciao Ciao Gelato & Cafe Opens This Weekend In Portage Park With 46 Flavors

PORTAGE PARK — A new gelato and drink cafe is bringing Italian treats and a relaxing atmosphere to Portage Park, just in time for warmer weather.Ciao Ciao Gelato & Cafe, opening this weekend at 5355 W. Irving Park Road, aims to liven up the Portage Park corner and be a spot where visitors feel welcome, said co-owner Marco Alt.“I want people to feel like [they’re] home — they come here, chill, sit down, watch a ...

PORTAGE PARK — A new gelato and drink cafe is bringing Italian treats and a relaxing atmosphere to Portage Park, just in time for warmer weather.

Ciao Ciao Gelato & Cafe, opening this weekend at 5355 W. Irving Park Road, aims to liven up the Portage Park corner and be a spot where visitors feel welcome, said co-owner Marco Alt.

“I want people to feel like [they’re] home — they come here, chill, sit down, watch a game, eat gelato and relax with kids and family,” said Alt, who lives in nearby Norridge.

Ciao Ciao Gelato & Cafe boasts 46 gelato flavors, all of which are made by Alt and his business partner, both natives of Italy. Flavors include salted caramel, pistachio, strawberry shortcake and double chocolate.

The cafe will sell typical Italian coffee drinks like cappuccini, macchiati, lattes and espressos, as well as milkshakes and teas. Mini pancakes, breakfast snacks like bagels and local Italian pastries will also be on the menu, Alt said.

“The mini pancakes are going to be fire. They come in white chocolate, Nutella or Kinder Nutella, and we’ll have the best milkshakes you’ll ever have,” he said.

Ciao Ciao Gelato & Cafe’s grand opening is noon Sunday and will feature a DJ spinning popular Disney songs for children.

Alt hopes his business brings more people to the neighborhood, especially with its proximity to the park and other local businesses. Akin to a traditional Italian cafe, the shop is a place to have “meaningful interactions and thoughtful social exchanges,” he said.

The shop’s tagline is simple: Eat gelato and chill.

“In this place, you will enjoy heavenly desserts with an amazing cup of coffee after a good meal or a relaxing walk,” Alt said.

Alt was raised in Palermo, Sicily, and worked at a gelato shop for seven years in Florence with some of his family. He then worked at a leather shop before moving to the Chicago area with his wife, whom he met while she was visiting Italy, he said.

After moving to the United States in 2015, Alt kept thinking about his time working at the gelateria in Florence. He’d long wanted to open up his own shop, so when the Portage Park storefront became available and he found a business partner, he decided it was time.

The spot used to be DanceRoom Chicago, a dance studio that moved out last year. Alt took over the space at the beginning of the year and has been busy renovating the storefront. He replaced the floors and ceiling, painted the walls and moved the bathroom, he said.

The cafe’s interior features Marvel Comics-themed signs, tables, a couch and a mix of Italian and Chicago artwork. Alt is adding finishing touches like menu signs, gelato cups and cones.

Alt said he also plans to install a sidewalk patio with two TVs for customers to hang out and watch sports shows and games.

Hiring people from the neighborhood is a priority for Alt. He and his business partner have received hundreds of job applications, and they want to make sure to give employment opportunities to students and people new to the foodservice industry, he said.

Marilyn Jimenez, who lives a few blocks away, is the shop’s first employee. Jimenez has worked in restaurants but said she’s long wanted to work at a cafe — even better, one that serves high-quality gelato.

“It’s been my dream to work in a cafe with many sweet treats,” Jimenez said. “In the summer it’s going to be a great family spot. It feels like a vacation, but it’s close to home.”

When asked about his favorite gelato flavors, Alt looked at the freezer line and quickly pointed to two of the most colorful flavors.

“Pistachio and Cookie Monster,” Alt said. “I know it’s for kids, but it’s really good.”

Ciao Ciao Gelato & Cafe will be open 7 a.m.-midnight daily after its opening weekend.

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'A punch to the gut': Bullpen relinquishes 5-run lead for 5th straight loss

HOUSTON -- The bullpen phone rang in the ninth inning after Keegan Thompson threw only one pitch on Wednesday night. Yainer Diaz connected with a fastball for a single, and Cubs manager David Ross wanted lefty Brandon Hughes to start getting ready.Two pitches later, the Minute Maid Park crowd was rocking as Jake Meyers trotted around the base...

HOUSTON -- The bullpen phone rang in the ninth inning after Keegan Thompson threw only one pitch on Wednesday night. Yainer Diaz connected with a fastball for a single, and Cubs manager David Ross wanted lefty Brandon Hughes to start getting ready.

Two pitches later, the Minute Maid Park crowd was rocking as Jake Meyers trotted around the bases, with the train horn blaring and the Cubs moments away from a 7-6 walk-off loss. Meyers’ two-run blast off Thompson initiated a swift downward spiral for a Chicago team searching for its footing amid a five-game losing streak.

“It’s a punch to the gut,” Thompson said. “It’s hard. It just sucks to let the team down.”

And it was easily the Cubs’ worst defeat to date this season.

“We’ve got to win that game,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’ve got to pitch better on the back end. The offense did enough tonight. We played good defense. I thought overall, really nice plays. We’ve got to cash that one in.”

The Cubs built a 6-1 lead by the fourth inning behind a pair of home runs from Seiya Suzuki, another jaw-dropping blast from Christopher Morel and contributions from Dansby Swanson (RBI triple) and Ian Happ (sacrifice fly). Lefty Drew Smyly used the early cushion to his advantage, striking out eight over six strong innings.

The bullpen just needed to cover the final three frames for the North Siders.

Ross is still working to find the right late-inning combination. Michael Fulmer faltered as the main ninth-inning arm out of the chute, eliminating the ability for the manager to work backward from that frame. Veteran Brad Boxberger also ran into issues and is now on the injured list with a right forearm strain. Hughes’ availability has been sporadic as he has learned to cope with a left knee issue.

And then there has been Thompson, who was undeniably a multi-inning weapon as a reliever last season. In ‘22, the righty had a 1.47 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks in 36 2/3 innings out of the ‘pen for Chicago. Thompson returned to the bullpen this year, but the results have not been to the same level.

“I think Keegan’s going to be fine,” Smyly said. “He’s very nasty. All it takes is one good game and another good game, and then you’re back rolling. I don’t think anybody should lose any confidence in him. He’s one of our best pitchers.”

Thompson posted a 0.68 ERA in his first eight outings (13 1/3 innings) this season, but he had nearly as many walks (10) as strikeouts (12) in that run. In the seven games that have followed that stretch, he has been charged with nine runs on 12 hits with four strikeouts and four walks.

One issue the Cubs are dealing with is how often Thompson can pitch. He has responded well to pitching with three days of rest (0.67 ERA with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 13 1/3 innings) this year, but has struggled when used in any other scenario (10.13 ERA with six strikeouts and 11 walks in eight innings).

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“We’re trying to get him synced up,” Ross said. “When he’s got enough rest. It feels like it’s something we’ve got to look at -- just him bouncing back a little bit better.”

Thompson said he needed to trust in his approach and routine rather than start hunting for any adjustments. Asked if the righty reached that determination based on underlying data or video comparison, Thompson replied: “It’s just how I feel. It’s my rhythm, my timing, how I’m feeling. Everything feels the same.”

In the latest loss, Adbert Alzolay got through the seventh inning unscathed, but then Mark Leiter Jr. -- with one appearance in the previous eight games -- allowed two runs in the eighth. That was against the heart of Houston’s order, but Leiter looked like the right option given his strong splits (entering Wednesday with a .381 OPS vs. righties and .588 OPS vs. lefties) and overall performance (1.06 ERA in 17 games).

With the Cubs holding a three-run advantage in the ninth, Thompson was summoned from the bullpen. He was tasked with facing the Nos. 7-9 pocket of the lineup, and had an off-day coming Thursday to help with his required rest period.

After Diaz and Meyers tagged Thompson for two runs in a span of three pitches, pinch-hitter Mauricio Dubón drew a walk. Ross pulled the plug on Thompson and had Hughes take over.

“I’m not going to wait around at that point,” Ross said.

That put Hughes in a tough position, and the lefty eventually allowed a walk-off, two-run single to Kyle Tucker with the bases loaded.

“The whole thing is frustrating, for sure,” Ross said. “We’ve got to win that game.”

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Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for He previously covered Cleveland from 2011-18 and Toronto from 2005-10. Subscribe to his Cubs Beat newsletter, and follow on Twitter @MLBastian.


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