One of the more under-the-radar moves made by the New York Mets in the last couple of years happened at the 2017 trade deadline. In that deal, the Mets sent longtime first baseman Lucas Duda to the Rays in exchange for Drew Smith. Often when I see teams deal with the Rays, I feel like they likely will lose the trade just based on the track record the Rays have.
However, this trade is looking like an absolute steal. Drew Smith is 27 years old and is already playing a pretty important role in the Mets bullpen. Smith’s most valuable asset this season has been his versatility. He has started a game as an opener. He has gone two innings or more 11 times. He has appeared in some high leverage moments. He’s really done it all.
Even with all of the different roles Smith has been forced to play in, he has thrived. He has gone 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA in 27 appearances and 37.1 innings pitched.
In this recent early August series in Miami, the Mets had no choice but to use Smith in a high leverage spot, and he turned in a 1-2-3 inning.
There have been two knocks on Smith so far in his short big-league career. The first and most important one is his health. Smith hasn’t been healthy at all in his first three seasons. After showing a lot of promise in his rookie season, Smith tore his UCL and missed all of the 2019 season and part of the shortened 2020 season. This season, Smith dealt with right shoulder soreness and missed the first month. Smith’s lack of durability is part of why he hasn’t really had a chance at a bigger role.
The other flaw in Smith’s game which has been very prevalent this season has been keeping the ball in the yard. Smith has allowed 11 earned runs this season. Of those 11 runs, he has given up seven home runs, accounting for nine of the runs scored.
If Smith can stay healthy and do a better job at limiting the long ball, he can and will possess a larger role in the Mets bullpen. He can be another version of Seth Lugo who proved to be so valuable in 2019 with his versatility.
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He performs well against lefties and righties, home and away, and in any situation, the Mets have thrown him in so far. In 2022 I expect to see Drew Smith in higher leverage situations and I expect him to continue to thrive.