Smith worked on his curveball during the offseason, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. Because Smith feels his slider is too similar in speed to his fastball, the left-hander wants a slower breaking ball. It was a pitch he introduced last season, but a bout with COVID-19 last summer limited him to just 14 innings. He never got a chance to develop it fully, although he did throw it 20 times and did not give up a hit on it, per Statcast. "The curveball is coming along really well," Smith said. "I picked it up pretty quick, actually. I think it's right where I need it to be. I think it's going to help my repertoire a lot this season." Smith is expected to be part of the Diamondbacks' rotation in 2021.
Smith and the Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year, $1.465 million contract Friday, avoiding arbitration, Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reports. A battle with COVID-19 limited Smith to just 14 innings last season on either side of a trade from the Marlins. His 2.57 ERA in those innings looks quite good, but it came with a poor 15:12 K:BB. The sample size is too small to significant alter Smith's reputation in either direction heading into 2021.
Smith allowed a hit and three walks over four scoreless innings in a no-decision versus the Rangers on Tuesday. He struck out two. Smith threw 44 of 78 pitches for strikes in his longest start of the year, but he wasn't eligible for the win. He's amassed a 3.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 12 innings between the Diamondbacks and the Marlins this year. The 29-year-old Smith could get one more start this season versus the Rockies on Sunday.
Smith didn't factor into the decision in Wednesday's contest between the Angels and the Diamondbacks. He gave up two runs on three hits and two walks while fanning four across two innings. Smith has made three starts this season and hasn't pitched more than three innings in any of those outings, so it's safe to consider him an opener rather than a conventional starter. As such, his upside going forward shouldn't be very high due to his inability to pitch deep into games.
Smith took a no-decision during Friday's win against the Mariners, allowing one run on one hit and a walk while striking out three across three innings. Smith's only damage of the night came via a solo home run by Dylan Moore in the third inning. Otherwise the southpaw held the Mariners in check, despite getting lifted after the third inning and throwing 29-of-40 pitches for strikes. Smith, who was activated from the injured list ahead of Friday's contest, made only one start this season that also lasted three innings before he was impacted by the Marlins' coronavirus outbreak. The 29-year-old will gear up for his next start Wednesday at Angel Stadium.