Seattle Mariners: Which Drew Smyly Will Show Up in 2017?

Aug 21, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Drew Smyly is the first to admit he had an up-and-down season in 2016, but he’s excited for his new opportunity as part of the rotation with the Seattle Mariners.

When the Seattle Mariners first traded for Drew Smyly, opinion on the acquisition was split. In that respect, it really did come down to perception.

On the one hand, Smyly was coming off a season, where he went just 7-12, despite starting a career-high 30 games. In addition, his 4.88 ERA was the worst of his five seasons in the Majors.

However, this was countered by the 27-year old’s 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175.1 innings, which indicated his ERA really should have been much better. Throw in the fact his 167 strikeouts were a career-best, and it was entirely understandable for Mariners’ fans to be unsure of what they were getting.

From Smyly’s point of view, he is the first to admit he endured an up-and-down campaign in 2016. Speaking to’s Greg Johns recently at FanFest, he said: “It was a bit of a roller coaster.”

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As Johns wrote, the Southpaw started off the season okay, before suffering a 12-game stretch, where he went 1-8 and recorded a dire 7.40 ERA. However, he then turned his performances around significantly, going 5-1 in his last 12 appearances and posting a 3.73 ERA.

Part of the reason for Smyly’s inconsistency, came down to a loss of confidence in his curveball. As a result, he had to reply more than usual on his fourseam fastball.

Smyly said: “I have to mix speeds – I’m constantly trying to get the hitter guessing. I know I can throw strikes, I know I’m not going to walk guys.

“But it’s just commanding the ball inside the strike zone, throwing quality strikes and changing speeds and keeping the hitter off-balance. That’s the biggest key to pitching.”

The 2010 second round draft pick’s struggles were also evident in his issues with the long ball. Last season he allowed 32 homers, which was sixth-most in the Majors.

Smyly hopes pitching in the Mariners’ ball park will contribute towards rectifying the problem: “Maybe Safeco Field will help a little bit. That can change a lot.

“One or two pitches can change the whole outcome of a game. I’ll just go out and compete every five days and give it my best every time.”

For what it’s worth, even including his struggles in 2016, the Maumelle, Arkansas native’s career ERA is 3.74. In the interests of comparison, this is still lower than any of the Mariners’ regular starting rotation managed last season.

Ultimately though, all the Mariners can do is wait and see what happens with Smyly, who is projected to pitch fourth in the rotation. General manager Jerry Dipoto believes he’ll be just fine, as he told Johns: ” He’s a guy who throws strikes and has a history of missing bats.

“He’s a pretty extreme fly-ball pitcher with low walks. With a greatly improved outfield defense in our park, he fits us like a glove.”

Next: Mariners Missed Out on Jason Hammel

What was your initial reaction, when you first heard the Mariners had acquired Smyly? Further, what kind of production are you expecting from him this coming season? Share your thoughts in the comments section.