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Mariners trade for Drew Smyly, a weary nation rejoices

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Don’t tell me you doubted the power of the great wizard of the North?

Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays
Guy Smyly
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Not even one hour since the last trade was announced, Jerry Dipoto—starring in his own personal version of Speed, where if he doesn’t make a trade every sixty minutes he explodes—is up to his tricksy tricks again:

So, to summarize: Jerry turned Luiz Gohara, Ryan Yarbrough, Thomas Burrows, and Carlos Vargas into Drew Smyly and Shae Simmons. (Farewell, Mallex Smith, we hardly knew ye.) If you look at this as Gohara/Yarbrough becoming Smyly, that looks...really good. Like, really really good. There’s a little bit of a concern here about trading away left-handed talent, as Gohara and Yarbrough were the top two LHP prospects in the organization, but WE HAVE A STARTING PITCHER NOW. For anyone who was keening over JerryCo not being committed to winning now, this is a pretty good clapback.

Smyly was available to the Mariners because: 1) he is going to get too costly for the tightfisted Rays organization, who are facing an impending salary crunch; and 2) he has some injury concern and is coming off a relatively ineffective 2016. And by relatively ineffective, I mean he still pitched 175 innings and was a 2-win player with a K/BB ratio of 3.41. That’s how high Smyly’s ceiling is. What makes the lefty’s 2016 look not great was a pretty serious dinger problem, to the tune of a career-high 1.64/9, which leads to a career-high 4.49 FIP. Ideally, the more spacious confines of Safeco will help Smyly, although who knows anymore, and certainly he won’t see any decline in the athletic-ness of his OF, but the home runs are the biggest red flag in Smyly’s file. But this might not be the reddest of flags, as Henry Druschel suggests in this piece from Beyond the Box Score:

By DRA, Smyly has been much better than his FIP or even his xFIP suggests; his 3.49 puts him in a class that includes Zack Greinke (3.48), Masahiro Tanaka (3.52), and Jake Arrieta (3.55), among others. DRA regresses home runs; by this measure, Smyly has been the victim of a heaping of bad luck, which might actually make him more attractive to an acquiring team. With two more trips through arbitration before he hits free agency, an ERA that looks worse than it should will depress his income and make him a more valuable asset, if DRA is accurately reflecting his skill.

The other red flag with Smyly is injury; he was limited to just 12 starts in 2015 with a torn shoulder labrum which he opted not to have surgically repaired.

Smyly throws mostly a low-90s fastball that he likes to put up in the zone for swinging strikes, and mixes that with a 12-6 curve that also induces a fair share of whiffs. Both these pitches induce strikeouts, but both can also be punished for home runs when he misses his spot with the fastball or leaves the curve hanging. He also throws a cutter and occasionally a changeup. His cutter produced some weird results in 2015:

That’s a very odd heatmap. It’s probably not a good sign that the majority of his cutters were thrown in the bottom-middle of the zone, where they were punished by batters. THROW IT ANYWHERE ELSE, DREW.

So, sometimes his cutter produced poor results, and other times it produced this:

This is Drew Smyly: somewhat of an enigma. But an enigma who will rack up the strikeouts. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this 12-strikeout game Smyly had against the Mariners in June of this year:

Good times, good times. Hey, at least he’s on our team now. Welcome, Drew.