Drew Smyly‘s first start in over three months didn’t exactly go as planned. The left-hander opted for the rehab route over season ending surgery on his torn left labrum, and managed to make it back in time to contribute. Despite successfully coming back, Smyly’s outing on Sunday didn’t have the best results. He tossed four innings, surrendering five runs — including a pair of solo shots — on seven hits and two walks. There was good news as Smyly managed to sit down four Rangers on strikes and induced 11 swinging strikes on 95 pitches.
I, and I assume others, took a very keen interested in his velocity, so to Brooks Baseball we go! We’ll be comparing his velocity from Sunday’s start compared to his other three 2015 games as well as previous seasons. It should be noted Smyly was used strictly as a reliever in 2013 and sparsely in a relief role in both 2012 and 2014. I also took the small liberty of classifying what the PITCHf/x system called two-seamers as sinkers and corrected his so-called sliders as curves from his outing on Sunday.
|First three 2015 starts||90.8||X||X||76.4||83.7|
Compared to his first three starts of the year, Smyly’s velocity is up across the board. In fact, he averaged speeds very similar to what he did as a reliever, specifically his sinker. Sheer velo on a sinker isn’t always ideal as the speed doesn’t allow the sinker to, well, sink and the pitch can flatten out. Going over the two home runs Smyly served up, one came on a poorly located fastball to Adrian Beltre and the other a hanging slider Ryan Strausborger smacked.
Note where Curt Casali set up pre-pitch to where he attempted to catch it, well before Beltre’s bat sent the fastball 409 feet.
Again Casali had his glove low and a bit in, but the slider just didn’t break and hung up in the air.
Outside of a handful of mistake pitches that got hammered, I’m encouraged by Smyly’s outing. Both his command (hitting the catcher’s mitt) and control (overall walks and strikeouts) could be better, though I liked seeing the whiffs. I’ll be monitoring his velocity, on the sinker in particular, but it seems just fine. Smyly will need to get ahead of batters more often as his first strike rate is just 60.7 percent this season and he managed to go 0-1 on just 11 out of 21 batters faced on Sunday. Still, I like his next start in Oakland against an A’s squad that owns the 20th ranked wRC+ and 22nd ranked wOBA versus lefties. I’ve picked him up where I could, and he may be available in standard leagues. Smyly is owned in just 50 percent of CBS and Yahoo! leagues as well as a mere 32 percent of ESPN formats. His floor is a stream option in standard 12-team mixed leagues, however I think he can be a solid SP4 going forward.