After back-to-back injury-wrecked seasons in Seattle and Chicago, left-hander Drew Smyly joined the Rangers via trade with the Cubs last November. The transaction all but completed the teams’ midsummer deal centering on southpaw Cole Hamels, and it was a bit of an eye-opener that the Cubs parted with Smyly. The 29-year-old has been a more-than-capable big leaguer for most of his career, after all, but the Cubs – who wanted to cut unnecessary payroll – deemed him and his $7MM salary expendable.
Smyly never threw a pitch for Chicago after it signed him to a two-year, $10MM guarantee in December 2017. The Cubs’ hope at the time was Smyly would eventually recover from the Tommy John surgery he underwent as a member of the Mariners in June 2017 and return to his past form. The Rangers had the same hope when they acquired Smyly, but the union between the two sides hasn’t worked out to this point, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explains.
In his most recent start of the year, Smyly turned in 3 1/3 innings of seven-earned run, eight-hit ball and allowed three homers in a loss to the lowly Orioles on Tuesday. Smyly has now taken the ball 10 times (eight starts) with Texas, and most of his outings have been middling to poor. He’s now running a 7.93 ERA/7.35 FIP with 8.79 K/9, 6.21 BB/9, a 27.3 percent groundball rate and a 20.3 percent home run-to-fly ball rate in 42 innings. Those numbers are a far cry from the production Smyly registered with the Tigers and Rays from 2014-16, a 77-start, 388-inning span in which he managed a 4.01 ERA/4.16 FIP with 8.58 K/9 and 2.55 BB/9. Smyly didn’t generate many grounders then, as shown by his 34 percent rate, but he helped limit homers (11.9 HR/FB%) with the majors’ leading infield fly percentage (15.3). He’s down to 7.1 percent in that category this season.
Even though there hasn’t been a change in Smyly’s velocity from 2016 to this year, it’s clear nothing is working in his return from TJ surgery. And with the Rangers surprisingly sitting at 30-28 and in a tie for the American League’s second wild-card spot, they may have to bounce Smyly out of their rotation to make a Cinderella run. However, that’s not going to happen yet, manager Chris Woodward said after Smyly’s start Tuesday (via Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram). Woodward has shown a willingness to make such a move, having shifted Shelby Miller – another offseason addition with a notable injury history – to the Rangers’ relief unit last month. It’s a small sample, but Miller has logged much better results as a reliever than a starter this season.
The Rangers’ reluctance to pull the plug on the Smyly experiment stems from a lack of alternatives, suggests Grant, who names only Double-A starters Joe Palumbo and Jonathan Hernandez as realistic in-house replacements. Palumbo, a 24-year-old lefty whom MLB.com considers the Rangers’ seventh-best prospect, has produced good results this season. Hernandez has a 5.47 ERA, on the other hand, but the 22-year-old has racked up a solid amount of strikeouts and grounders. At No. 8, Hernandez falls right behind Palumbo on MLB.com’s list of Rangers prospects. Nevertheless, the team doesn’t seem inclined to rush either to the majors, even as it clings to a playoff spot.
In the event Texas stays in the race over the next month and a half but still doesn’t find an inside replacement for Smyly, it could consider the trade market. General manager Jon Daniels has made it known the Rangers will be aggressive spenders heading into a new ballpark next season, so it could make sense to acquire a starter who’s under control past this year. In doing so, the Rangers would ideally better their playoff odds this season while strengthening their roster for 2020. Blue Jays righties Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez spring to mind as controllable upgrades who could be on the move in the coming weeks. Detroit lefty Matt Boyd would require a lot more than Stroman or Sanchez in return if the Tigers were to move him, but he’s someone who’d be worth inquiring about from the Rangers’ perspective.
For now, the Rangers will continue with the rotation they have. It’s not the most confidence-inspiring group, but there have been bright spots. Two of Daniels’ reasonably priced free-agent pickups, Mike Minor (two offseasons ago) and Lance Lynn (last winter), have lived up to their contracts. Ariel Jurado has pitched well, albeit over just three starts, and Adrian Sampson has been effective of late. But the Rangers’ starting five is difficult to trust after Minor and Lynn, especially because of Smyly’s struggles, and the unit’s shakiness will make it tough for the team to snap its two-year playoff drought this season.
Rangers are going to be the 2nd wild card team according to rangers fans…hell, they may take the division from the Astros in 2019, according to rangers fans.
There are fans like this from every team. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they take the second wildcard. They have a lot of young players that have never lived up to their hype. If a few decide to play like an average player (Masada, Odor), or in Gallo’s case, an above average player, and the vets like Choo, Pence, and Forsythe keep this up, they could be in the race late into September. However, the pitching will be the determining factor if they compete or not.
What are the odds of all of that happening? Odor should be in AAA right now. Choo gets injured a ton. Pence is a great player, but how long can he keep it up at his age? Mazara is what he is at this point, they’ve been waiting 4 years for a breakout. He’s a league average player until proven otherwise. Gallo will more than likely regress from his hot start to the season, and he’s currently on the IL… my comment was from earlier trolling by rangers fans when I said the AL West was wrapped up. It is. Rangers will be lucky to be 2nd in the division, let alone the 2nd wild card spot.
You’re probably right about some of that, but people also said that after April, and then May, and here we still are. People love to hate the Rangers
Exactly. The Rangers were my pick for worst record of 2019 going into the season.
Too many mediocre teams in the AL West to allow Texas to have the worst record.
But, Texas is dreaming if they think they are contending and looking for arms at the deadline. Then Daniels should be fired if that’s the direction he takes.
Or trade Jon Daniels for Mike Rizzo.
I saw JD’s interview tge other day. I don’t think anyone harbers serious playoff plans this year. But if a bargin presents itself, or a controlable starter can be had, pull the trigger and be happy being competitive.
Love watching Astros fans bashing the Rangers. The same team the Rangers kicked around when the Astros were intentionally tanking to get the top picks in the draft. But then, did they win the World Series back to back? I forget?
Is there a single Rangers fan that has ever said we had a shot at the world series this year? JB still out there bringin the stupid comments haha
A guy can dream, can’t he?
It’s why I buy a Lotto ticket every week.
Delusional, but still a dream…..
Texas going to win it all according to ranger fans
Don’t count them out, according to ranger fans.
Astros fans think they are suddenly fans of the best team because they won *one* World Series. Astros fans suck whether they win or lose.
Well they did actually win one. So they have that. Ranger fans are just bitter.
The best season Smyly had was as a reliever with the Tigers. The Rangers are in the wild card race because the Indians and Red Sox have severely underperformed, not due to their own accomplishments. The Red Sox are a winning streak away from leaving the rest of the wild card pack in the dust. They have an 8-12 game run in them over the next few weeks. The rangers do not.
The Rangers are the second wild card right now because of their accomplishments. That’s exactly how standings work. Some times teams underpeform, that’s why they play games and don’t just award wins and losses. Everyone had the Rangers losing 90+ games, which they still may, but they’re much better off than assumed right now. Why can’t Rangers fans be happy about that? It really drives people crazy apparently.
Sounds like a bunch of Red Sox and Cleveland fans – maybe that’s why they’re “bullish” on the Rangers..
Overachieving, playing above their heads — who cares! Rangers are doing just fine right now….
The Ranger Fan
B-Minus21…….. you are so correct,let it play out a while longer and let’s see if we can hang on to the wildcard or not,I don’t know why trolls like jb19 have such a hard- on for the Rangers
The Ranger Fan
Jb19…… wow you sure got a bone to pick with the Rangers and Rangers fans, did you go to a Ranger game one day and you didn’t get the big hotdog or what. Every fan has the right to come on here and post and have dreams of their team and bragging about their team, but as we all know some people will post negative comments, but jeez buddy you need some serious help.
Lol he’s covering for being a fan of a team that spent years sandbagging to get top picks. The Rangers are being competitive without resorting to tactics that insult baseball fans by deliberately putting a team of cheap nobodies on the field like the Astros did for years.
Jb is hilarious, I have seen him on here bashing away at the Rangers for awhile now. I cant speak for you guys, but personally I dont care much about the Stros, they sucked so bad when we were good! If they stay good in 2021 and 2022 when I think there will be some rivalry there, but until then I’ll save my distaste for LA or Anaheim or whoever those suckers are these days.
The Ranger Fan
As for the Rangers, I would not rush the rookies mentioned to in this post, as for the two weeks and Marcus Stroman and Sanchez, They couldn’t be any worse than Smyly is at the moment, if we don’t have to give the farm away what’s wrong with getting some help, I’m kinda curious to see where this teams going.
None of the pitchers Daniels would go for are strictly a rental either. If he is trading he is doing so for someone that can help sustain this pace this year but definitely more so to help in the coming years. Very similar to what they did when they acquired Hamels.
The Ranger Fan
Wish they had Hamels. But yes you’re spot on correct.
Bad Juju for leaving Seattle like he did. Sucks to see. Wish him a speedy recovery.
Daniels continues to be Epstein’s lap dog. Epstein must laugh at how he whip’s Daniels at every trade…at every deal. It is never any competition.