It’s not surprising to hear this news, as the club strongly hinted a change would be made after another exceedingly rough outing from Smyly, who turns 30 tomorrow. There had been some suggestion that an ankle injury might lead to an injured-list placement, but the Rangers decided instead to slide him into a relief role for the time being.
Smyly has simply been tagged this year. Through 45 innings, he has coughed up 15 home runs and carries a 44:31 K/BB ratio. Opposing hitters are spitting on pitches out of the zone (22.4% chase rate) and destroying those in it (43.1% hard-hit rate). Though Statcast indicates he has been a bit unfortunate (.419 wOBA-against versus .385 xwOBA-against), it’s scant consolation.
This decision hints at the tough questions facing the Rangers, who’ve run out to a 36-30 record that seems tough to sustain. The rotation has received a bit of a boost from Adrian Sampson and Ariel Jurado, but it’s hard to count on either to provide even solid results the rest of the way. Even assuming those two can keep up reasonably useful production, and there aren’t any injuries, there’s a need for at least one additional rotation piece behind Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.
It’s also rough news for Smyly, who had hoped to be in the midst of a return to his prior form at this stage of the season. He missed all of 2017 and 2018 owing to serious elbow problems that resulted in Tommy John surgery. He’ll be a free agent again at season’s end.