Drew Smith has made a pair of appearances for the 2021 New York Mets and already has a game started and a game finished. The start came as an opener versus the Tampa Bay Rays. The finish came in a victory against the Baltimore Orioles.
However it is the Mets use him on a regular basis, the important thing is that they use him. Smith missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John Surgery. In minimal 2020 action, he had a 6.43 ERA.
At 27, he’s young enough to have a future with this ball club. He should get those opportunities as long as he does his job and the front office supplies him with the opportunity to do so.
Let’s flashback to what Drew Smith has done with the Mets in the past
Smith saw the majority of his big league action in 2018 when he was 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in 28 innings pitched. This came after going 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA combined in Double-A and Triple-A. As a guy with ERAs of 0.29, 2.96, and 1.65 on the farm in consecutive years from 2015-2017, there were early signs of how productive of a big league reliever he could one day become.
The big change we did see from Smith when he leaped from the farm to the show was how few strikeouts he was accumulating. He went from a season-low of 8.6 per nine in the minors to just 5.8 in his first big league season.
With only a handful of innings to go on and just a single season at the big league level, it’s hard to evaluate a lot of his numbers. Hit hard at times in 2018 with a hits per nine rate of 10.9 per nine, there’s a very obvious area we should pay attention to with him this year. Can Smith, who didn’t have elite strikeout capabilities in 2018, find his groove or at least stop getting hit so hard?
The 3.54 ERA we saw from him in 2018 was good but it came at the cost of a 1.42 WHIP and .209 batting average against. These are the alarming kind of numbers that can hint at worse things to come.
The Mets do have some wiggle room in their bullpen to ensure Smith sticks around. However, as one of only a small number of relievers with minor league options, he may find himself going back and forth from the major leagues to the minors throughout the year. Smith will need to prove himself worthy of sticking around. Unarmed with the length of Robert Gsellman or Sean Reid-Foley, Smith’s performance will weigh heaviest as to whether or not he gets to remain in the major leagues.
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Looking into the future, Smith could become one of those middle-to-late relievers we see enter the game late with a lead. For now, the important thing is to get him innings. From there, we can figure out exactly where it is he fits in even if the end result isn’t so great.