Left-Handed Pitcher Drew Smyly
While Drew Smyly spent much of the season on the shelf, he quickly became one of the more reliable arms in the Giants rotation when healthy.
Health seems to be the key for the veteran southpaw.
Earlier in his career, Smyly flashed the potential to become an ace or co-ace. In his first four seasons, he posted a 3.24 ERA (3.53 FIP) with a 3.44 SO/W ratio. Similar to Gausman, he has consistently flashed electric stuff and the ability to command it in the zone.
However, the injuries began to pile up as he tore his UCL in his pitching elbow in the middle of 2017. The road to recovery was a long one as he missed all of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
The left-handed hurler returned to the mound in 2019, but his effectiveness lagged. After struggling to the tune of an 8.42 ERA in 13 appearances, the Texas Rangers cut him loose. He caught on with the Philadelphia Phillies where he saw better results. In 12 starts, he generated a 4.45 ERA with a 3.24 SO/W ratio. The stuff was beginning to return at that point.
The SF Giants reeled him in on a one-year, 4$ million contract as a reclamation project and he did not disappoint. Across 26.1 innings, Smyly posted a 3.42 ERA (2.01 FIP) with 42 strikeouts. Furthermore, he struck out an impressive 37.8 percent of the hitters he faced.
Smyly’s curveball usage skyrocketed to 36.5 percent in 2020, whereas he ditched his changeup and reduced the usage of his fastball. Opposing hitters struggled to make any contact against his breaking pitch as they produced a paltry .184 batting average with 27 strikeouts.
If he had been healthy for the entire season, I do think the Giants would have squeaked into the playoffs. Regardless, this was a nice bounceback year for Smyly.
Like Gausman, Smyly is set to hit free agency again and he should see plenty of interest. That said, teams will be cautious of his injury history, and will likely need to bring in an insurance arm just in case.