Ah yes, he of the “soggy arm” injury that turned into a Tommy John surgery. Yes, the Drew Smyly that cost the Mariners Mallex Smith and Ryan Yarbrough. The very same. Before we get too far into the idea, I should let it be known that I love Smyly. His acquisition may have been my favorite in the Dipoto era until the Diaz/Robinson Cano trade.
But putting my fanhood aside, bringing back Drew Smyly to fill out the back-end of the rotation for a year is an idea I am all in on. After the surgery cost him all of his 2017 and 2018 seasons, Smyly made his return to the big leagues in 2019 and things, well, they didn’t go well.
In 25 appearances (21 starts) for Texas and Philadelphia, Smyly’s production was terrible. He posted a 6.24 ERA, a 6.22 FIP, and surrendered 32 home runs in 114 innings. Very Felix Hernandez, circa 2019, like production for Smyly.
But there were some positive signs for Smyly. He posted a 9.47 K/9 in 2019. His fastball velocity was back to normal almost immediately. He was much better in the second half of the season, albeit still mediocre. And of course, he is just 29-years-old and should come pretty cheap.
Statcast’s similarity scores, which compares pitchers based on stuff (velocity and pitch movement), positively comped him to Madison Bumgarner, Joey Luchessi, and Robbie Ray, 3 pretty darn good LHP’s.
There is also the possibility of putting Smyly back in the bullpen, where he began his career with great success in Detroit. Adding a talent like Smyly at his current cost provides no risk for the Mariners and offers surprisingly good upside.
Think about it this way: if he’s even league average, he is a steal. If he’s terrible, you’re out a couple of million dollars at most.
These 3 names are not sexy and they won’t drive people to the ballpark. In all likelihood, they may not help the Mariners win more than an extra game or two. But to become more competitive in 2020 without putting undue pressure on the young kids who still need time to develop, these reunions could make a lot of sense for the players and team.