The 27-year-old left-hander managed to stay healthy but struggled through the majority of the 2016 campaign. His first half of the season was particularly poor, with Drew Smyly tallying just a pair of victories against 10 losses to go along with a 5.47 ERA. He rebounded in the second half to forge a 5-2 record and generate a more respectable 4.08 ERA, but still saw a significant drop in his K/9 and the home runs have become a major issue at this point (43 allowed in 242 innings over the past two seasons). There was no accompanying rise in BABIP to blame for his struggles in 2016, as that figure remained at a reasonable .291. A full offseason of rest will create further distance from the shoulder problems and he's relatively safe in his role even after a trade to Seattle, but Smyly remains a risk in the ratio categories.
Smyly will pitch in the series finale of the season-opening four-game set against the Astros as per manager Scott Servais, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. The southpaw will follow Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton in that series, and he'll tune up for his debut by starting and pitching two innings in Friday's Cactus League tilt against the Rockies. Smyly will look to head into the regular season with some momentum after giving up five earned runs on six hits and four walks over four innings against the Reds last Sunday.
Smyly gave up five earned runs on six hits and four walks over four innings in Sunday's 7-6 Cactus League win over the Reds. He also recorded a strikeout. After pitching against the Padres in a "B" game on Tuesday, Smyly took the mound in his first official post-WBC start and struggled against a Reds lineup that featured several regulars. The veteran lefty was touched up for home runs by Jose Peraza, Desmond Jennings and even starting pitcher Rookie Davis, with the latter two launching their round-trippers in the second inning. Smyly blamed inconsistent location, particularly with his fastball, for the majority of his troubles. Factoring in Sunday's outing, he owns a 5.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 6:6 K:BB over nine spring innings.
Smyly said he wasn't taken by surprise by the increased velocity he showed in his World Baseball Classic start, crediting extra rest between starts, adrenaline and his offseason work for the boost, Shannon Drayer of MyNorthwest.com reports. The left-hander is set to throw Tuesday with the Mariners. Unfortunately, Smyly will struggle to find similar breaks between outings in the regular season to the ones he's enjoyed in the WBC. Perhaps Seattle will make some effort to manage his workload and provide him with extra rest, considering his past health woes. Even with that concern, the 27-year-old remains an attractive upside option to round out a fantasy pitching staff.
Manager Scott Servais expects Smyly to rejoin Mariners camp after his Wednesday start for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. The initial schedule was a one-and-done appearance in the Classic. Smyly dominated Team Venezuela, striking out eight batters without a walk, throwing 44 strikes in 61 pitches and allowing only an unearned run. The southpaw struck out the final six batters he faced to continue a dazzling March run: He's allowed only one run in 9.2 spring training innings. Following a dismal 2017 in which the veteran absorbed a 4.88 ERA, Smyly ranks as an alluring rebound candidate.
Smyly gave up one run (unearned) in 4.2 innings of work Wednesday, allowing three hits while striking out eight in Team USA's 4-2 victory over Team Venezuela. On top of his eight strikeouts, Smyly didn't walk a batter and threw 44 of his 61 total pitches for strikes. He's looked great all spring, as the southpaw has only conceded one run in 9.2 innings so far. The 27-year-old will look to carry his form into the season, where he'll look to rebound from a tough 2016 that featured a disappointing 4.88 ERA in 175.1 innings.