Miguel Castro led all New York Mets relief pitchers in innings last year with 70.1. Luis Rojas used him often and in a variety of ways. He was usually found as one of the first guys out of the bullpen in replace of the starter.
This year, Buck Showalter will have to turn to someone else for those frames because Castro was traded to the New York Yankees. One candidate is Drew Smith.
Smith has been one of those younger Mets relievers we’ve been waiting on for a few seasons to really crank it up. Arriving in the big leagues in 2018 after the 2017 deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for Lucas Duda, he has given the club a 4-3 performance and 3.18 ERA in his first 76.1 innings as a major league reliever. In 2022, he will hopefully get a chance to stay on the major league roster and eat up plenty of innings.
Drew Smith can seize a bigger role in the Mets bullpen with Miguel Castro gone
Smith still lines up behind closer Edwin Diaz and the expected setup men for him, Seth Lugo and Trevor May. However, as one of the few relievers under team control heading into next season, he has the perfect opportunity to work his way into a far bigger role with the team.
Since joining the Mets, Smith has battled through some injuries. He missed all of 2019 after a promising yet limited performance in 2018. In 2021, he looked even better. He is fresh off of a 3-1 season with a 2.40 ERA performance.
Now 28, Smith is entering a vital part of his major league career. He has hung around long enough without fully establishing himself as a proven big leaguer. Again, it’s the injuries that have gotten in the way most.
From what we have seen, Smith has a shot to be a reliable middle reliever. His upside probably won’t push him into much more than a sixth or seventh inning option. It’s a good thing starters are going shorter than ever. It makes a guy like Smith much more valuable.
The Mets bullpen remains questionable with one of the biggest ones being whether or not they have enough left-handed options. Chasen Shreve and the guy the Mets traded Castro for, Joely Rodriguez, are the likeliest of candidates to crack the Opening Day roster. Smith was already headed there. But with Castro now gone, his role could be more defined. He’s someone the Mets can use regularly and as he showed frequently throughout 2021, he’s able to go two innings: an accomplishment he had multiple times throughout the year.