Tag Archives: Drew Smyly

Phillies take a flyer on lefty starting pitcher Drew Smyly

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Drew Smyly still has not returned to form after TJ surgery

The Philadelphia Phillies have reached a contract agreement with 30-year-old free agent starting pitcher Drew Smyly, according to numerous reliable sources.

Smyly is expected to step into the club’s starting rotation quickly. That could mean as soon as this weekend in Pittsburgh, though it is unknown exactly how ready he will be to go deep into an outing at this point.
The left-hander pitched in 13 games this season, nine of those as a starter, for the Texas Rangers. He was 1-5 with an 8.42 ERA, 8.05 FIP, and 1.909 WHIP. Smyly allowed 64 hits over 51.1 innings with a 52/34 K:BB ratio.
Those are some ugly numbers. Any casual fan who simply looks at such a “back of the baseball card” line and wonders why this signing is anything to get excited about would be absolutely correct in their reaction. Smyly has a lot to prove, and is certainly not to be considered “the answer” to the Phillies present rotation troubles.
However, what the team has to be hoping is that they will ultimately get more professional, big-league caliber performances from Smyly at the back-end of their rotation than have been delivered by Nick PivettaVince Velasquez and Zach Eflin. Also, with Jake Arrieta battling bone spurs in his pitching elbow, there is no telling how long the veteran will hold up.
Smyly has tasted success in Major League Baseball. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, he was the second round choice of the Detroit Tigers at 68th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft out of the University of Arkansas.
Smyly broke into the big-leagues with Detroit, appearing as both a starter and reliever in the 2012-14 seasons. He also made 10 appearances out of the bullpen with the Tigers in the 2012-13 postseason, including a pair of appearances in the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
Smyly was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in a big three-team swap at the 2014 MLB trade deadline. The Tigers landed David Price from Tampa Bay in that deal in what would prove a failed attempt by Detroit to reach a fourth straight ALCS.
With the Rays, Smyly immediately stepped into the starting rotation and was outstanding. He went 3-1 with a 1.70 ERA, allowing just 25 hits over 47.2 innings across seven starts with a 44/11 K:BB ratio, establishing himself at age 25 as key piece of the Rays future.
Unfortunately, left shoulder problems derailed his 2015 season, limiting him to just a dozen starts. Following an outstanding effort at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox on May 5, Smyly was shut down for what was expected to be the remainder of the season. But he was able to return in mid-August to make another nine mostly effective starts.
I just got a lot of shoulder care, rehab, strengthening program,” Smyly said prior to the 2016 season per Bill Chastain for MLB.com. “… I just stuck to that. Tried to get my core strong and focused on making my shoulder as healthy as it can be and just try to come into spring healthy and ready to go.
It was apparent that he had lost something during that 2016 campaign. He made 30 starts, striking out 167 batters and allowing 174 hits over 175.1 innings for the Rays. However, he was hit hard over his last five starts to the tune of a .294 batting average against with a 5.33 ERA during that season-ending stretch.
Smyly would not pitch again in Major League Baseball until this year. In January 2017, Smyly was dealt by the Rays to the Seattle Mariners. He would never pitch in big-league game for Seattle.
After looking good while pitching with the first-ever U.S. team to win the World Baseball Classic early that spring, he was shut down with elbow discomfort. He would ultimately require Tommy John surgery and miss the entirety of the 2017 season.
A free agent at age 29, rather than his hoped-for big career payday, Smyly had to settle for a two-year, $10 million deal from the Chicago Cubs, who took a flyer on his recovery. The lefty would be able to make just one start in the Cubbies minor league system in the 2018 season, and was dealt to Texas last November.
After his less than stellar performances for them, the Rangers gave Smyly his release just over three weeks ago. He had a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, but decided to opt out of that deal. The Phillies believe there are signs pointing to the possibility that there is still something to squeeze out of him.
Per Joe Giglio with NJ.com: “Smyly is generating swings and misses at a high rate. During his stint in Texas, Smyly struck out 52 batters in 51.1 innings. During two Triple-A starts with the Brewers, Smyly racked up 18 strikeouts in 12 innings.

Arrieta will make the start in tonight’s (Friday) series opener at PNC Park against the host Pittsburgh Pirates. Eflin is scheduled to go on Saturday and Velasquez on Sunday.

Tampa Bay Rays successfully transition Alex Colome to the closer role

Colome (L) leads the American League in Saves
Way back on July 28, 2000 the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays completed a trade with the Oakland Athletics. The D-Rays sent away a pair of arms in Jim Mecir and Todd Belitz, and in return received a Double A right-hander named Jesus Colome.
Colome had a big arm, with pitches clocked at over 100 miles per hour. He made his big league debut with Tampa in June of 2011 as a reliever, beginning what would be a 10-year career in Major League Baseball.
Colome left via free agency, signing with the New York Yankees. He would end up pitching again in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Seattle Mariners. Jesus retired following the 2010 season at age 32, but would show up for a 2012 stint in the Mexican League.
A year later, the Rays would debut another Colome at the big league level. This one was Alex Colome, the nephew of Jesus. The younger Colome had signed out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year old in March of 2007.

DEVELOPMENT AS A STARTING PITCHER

Alex would be developed as a starter by the Tampa organization. He put himself on the prospect map by going 7-4 over 15 starts with Low A Hudson Valley in 2009. Colome registered a 1.66 ERA, allowing just 46 hits over 76 innings while striking out 94 batters.
By 2013, a year after Jesus wrapped his pro career in Mexico, a 24-year old Alex was making his big league debut, still as a starting pitcher.
At that point, the Rays rotation was loaded. It featured 27-year old lefty David Price, winner of the AL Cy Young Award the previous season, and 26-year old righty Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year.
Youngsters Matt MooreAlex CobbChris ArcherDrew SmylyNate Karns and Jake Odorizzi were all aged 25 or younger. All had either debuted in Major League Baseball or were knocking on the door.
Colome would receive three starts in the 2014 season, but the Rays brain trust was already contemplating a switch to the bullpen. His two relief outings that year, however, yielded poor results. Colome surrendered six earned runs on seven hits over five innings.
On May 1, 2015, Colome was promoted again to Tampa, and immediately inserted into the Rays rotation. He received 13 starts over the next two months, putting together a 3-4 record with a 4.70 ERA. He allowed 73 hits over 69 innings with just a 44/24 K:BB ratio.

SWITCH TO THE BULLPEN CLICKS

With Archer, Odorizzi, Karns, Moore, and Smyly, as well as 25-year old Erasmo Ramirez around to handle the starting load, it was again decided to switch Colome to the bullpen. Again he struggled over his first couple of outings.
But then something clicked. From July 17 through the end of the 2015 season, Colome made 28 relief appearances, allowing just 30 hits over 37.1 innings with a 2.17 ERA. He struck out 42 batters and walked just seven in that time, allowing just a .229 Batting Average Against.
Colome had found the role that would prove to be his meal ticket. The following year of 2016 saw Colome become a member of the American League All-Star Team for the first time.
Taking over as the Rays closer in mid-April, he would register 37 Saves with a 1.91 ERA over 57 games that year. He also had an overpowering 71/15 K:BB ratio over 56.2 innings in which he allowed just 43 hits.
In the spring, Colome was part of the Dominican bullpen during the World Baseball Classic. He made five appearances, allowing two runs on two hits over 4.1 innings while striking out five.
This year has been another successful one out of the Rays pen for the now 28-year old. His 43 Saves lead the AL by a wide margin. His ERA is up at 3.02, and his K/9 has dropped from last year’s 11.3 to the 8.0 mark this season. But much of that comes from a poor late-June, early July stretch.
Since July 6, Colome has saved 21 games over 25 appearances. He has surrendered just four earned runs in 25.1 innings pitched, for a 1.42 ERA. His Batting Average Against is a miniscule .187 in that time, and he has 22/6 K:BB mark.

FUTURE BRIGHT FOR RAYS AND THEIR CLOSER

Colome is likely about to realize the fruits of his successful transition to the closer role. After making just over a half-million dollars in each of the last three seasons, he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this coming off-season.
Rays manager Kevin Cash is happy to have Colome to turn to at the end of games when Tampa has a lead.
“He’s a special player,” Cash said recently per Marc Topkin for the Tampa Bay Times
“What he does to close out ballgames, whether it’s 7-8-9 (hitters) or the teeth of the lineup, the way he buys into whatever we ask him to do makes it really easy to manage guys like that. That team-first concept, he really sets a tone. The way we used him early in the year (over multiple innings), there aren’t many closers that are too keen on that idea. Alex was, what do I need to do. I’m glad he’s having the season he’s having.”

The Rays were in playoff contention for much of this season. Despite playing poorly since early August, they remained in the AL Wildcard race until recently. Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the postseason since 2013. Colome’s development as a reliable closer is one more piece to their future contending puzzle.

2016 Winter Meetings: Tampa Bay Rays

When newly named Tampa Bay Rays GM and senior VP of baseball operations Erik Neander arrives at the Winter Meetings, he is likely to be a popular fellow.
The Rays have what is generally considered to be a top ten farm system. They finished the 2016 season at 68-94 in fifth place in the always tough AL East Division.
Now might be the perfect time for Neander and Matthew Silverman, the club’s President for Baseball Operations, to begin looking at building a contender for a few years down the road.
To that end, the Rays would have two of the most attractive assets as the Winter Meetings open. 
Those would be starting pitcher Chris Archer and veteran third baseman Evan Longoria.

ARCHER TOP RAYS ASSET

Archer has an extremely favorable contract situation. He is guaranteed just $19 million over the next three seasons.
There are also affordable options at $9 and $10 million for the subsequent two years with buyouts that amount to nothing.
The 28-year-old righty has made at least 32 starts in three straight seasons. He finished third in the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year voting, and in 2015 was an All-Star, finishing fifth in the AL Cy Young voting that season.
In 2016, Archer led the American League with 19 losses against just nine victories. However, he allowed just 183 hits over 201.1 innings with a 233/67 K:BB ratio.
The Cubs and Braves are believed in on Archer. The Tigers, if they choose to go for it again rather than rebuild themselves, are also among those thought to have interest in the pitcher.

LONGO ON THE BLOCK?

The 31-year-old Longoria is the unquestioned team leader. He just finished his ninth season in Tampa. In the 2016 season, Longoria hit .273 with a .521 slugging percentage. He banged 36 homers and 41 doubles, with 98 RBI and 83 runs scored.
Longo will be expensive, dollars and cents-wise. He is owed another $94 million over the next six years, which would take him through his age-36 season.
He is probably a good bet to bring back value. Longoria has missed significant time just once in his nine years. He was the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year, a 3x All-Star, and 2x Gold Glover. He has received MVP votes six times, including this season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets both have been heavily linked to Longoria.
Other Rays players who may be available this offseason include starting pitcher Drew Smyly, lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno, and second baseman Logan Forsythe.

NEW RAYS MANAGEMENT TEAM

Odds are that as the Winter Meetings approach, Silverman and Neander have already begun preliminary discussions aimed at getting something done. In a short time, the Rays front office team has developed a solid reputation.
This will be Neander’s first go-around in his new role, and Silverman’s second time around. As last year’s Winter Meetings got underway, Silverman was asked about his style of being direct, even blunt.
“There’s certain teams who come in and officer audacious proposals that are more entertaining than anything else,” he said per Marc Topkin with the Tampa Bay Times“That is not our style. We like to cut to the chase and have targeted discussions and move on quickly if there isn’t a deal to be had.
“That’s the approach we’ve taken. It’s not necessarily the right approach, but it is one that we’re comfortable with and has led to some strong relationships with the clubs across the league.”
Look for the Rays to get a big deal or two done during this offseason. The Winter Meetings will be the place it happens. At the very least it will be the place where preliminary discussions move those deals forward.