Lost in the news that the Rangers have a new manager in Chris Woodward was the news that the Rangers on-field rebuild has started. They now have a starting pitcher to go along with Mike Minor.
Two down, three more to go.
On Friday the Rangers acquired 29-year-old left-hander Drew Smyly from the Cubs along with a player to be named later, in exchange for a player to be named later. (If you are like me, you cannot wait until the naming ceremony where these players are given names.)
Smyly actually never pitched for the Cubs in 2018. In fact, he pitched just one inning of minor league ball. And he didn’t pitch at all in 2017. That’s because he’s coming off Tommy John surgery.
This is reminiscent of two recent Jon Daniels acquisitions, the aforementioned Mike Minor in 2018 and A.J. Griffin in 2016. Both were coming back from missing two years due to injury. Minor had more success than Griffin, who had a few stretches of brilliance.
In five seasons, Symly pitched for Detroit and Tampa Bay, mainly as a starter, but he put up his best numbers the year he came out of the pen for the Tigers. That year, 2013, his second in the big leagues, Smyly pitched in relief in 63 games, going 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.039 WHIP.
His final season with Tampa Bay, in 2016, Smyly started thirty games, went 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA.
Overall, he’s 31-27 with a 3.74 ERA. If the Rangers are able to get anywhere near that kind of production from Smyly this season, it would be a godsend. Especially for $7 million.
His best pitch, according to Fan Graphs, is a four-seam fastball, which sits at 91 MPH, which he throws about 55% of the time, generating a higher rate of fly balls than most lefties’ four-seamers, with fewer swings and misses by comparison as well. He also mixes in a curveball about 20% of the time, and a cutter about 13%. Occasionally, he will throw a splitter or a changeup.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery is a crap shoot. The Rangers have rolled far too many snake eyes from the bargain barrel. Maybe they are due to roll a seven.