Drew Smith, RHP
Player Data: Age: 25, B/T: R/R, Free Agency: 2025
Basic Stats: 27 G, 28 IP, 18 K, 3.54 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 10.9 H/9, 0.64 HR/9, 5.79 K/9, 1.93 BB/9
Advanced Stats: 0.5 bWAR, 0.2 fWAR, 3.66 FIP, 4.91 xFIP
Drew Smith did not play too big of a part in the Mets 2018 season as a whole. After all, he was only called up on June 22 and was optioned on July 8 for a little less than two weeks. However, Smith performed admirably in the time he did contribute to the big league club which involved 27 games and 28 innings pitched.
Smith’s first cup of tea in Flushing involved three games from June 23 to June 29. In those three games he gave up four hits, two walks and one run while striking out two batters. He was optioned on July 8 to make room for Chris Flexen who was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to make his first and only start of the 2018 season.
This time Smith was there to stay and made the most out of his early opportunities. After allowing a couple of hits and a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 26, he followed that up with 12 2/3 innings of one-run ball in 11 games from July 31 to Aug. 29.
Smith’s first true battle with adversity came against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 31. He came into the game with the Mets down 4-0 and a runner on third in the bottom of the eighth. He ended up giving up the inherited run and two additional runs on three hits and a walk.
Over his next six appearances Smith returned to form as he complied 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. However, Smith faced his worst stretch of the season in a three-game span from Sept. 18 to Sept. 25.
On September 18 he gave up four hits and three runs in a third of an inning. He followed that up by allowing five hits and three runs on September 23.
While the box score from September 25 makes him look good upon first glance, he was anything but good. With the Mets up 3-1 on the Atlanta Braves with one out in the seventh, Smith promptly blew the lead by allowing an inherited run to score on a wild pitch and following that up by allowing a two-run single.
He rebounded in his final two appearances of the season by merely giving up one hit in 1 2/3 innings.
Overall, Smith was more helpful than he was harmful. He only allowed earned runs in six of his 27 games played. Among those six games, the Mets won three and were blown out in two meaning that he rarely struggled at inopportune times.
Only on two occasions could an argument be made that Smith cost them the game: On Sept. 18 when he gave up three runs in the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies and Sept. 25 when he gave up three inherited runs in the Mets’ 7-3 loss to the Braves.
In comparison to the other major contributors in the 2018 bullpen, Smith was among the top performers. Among the 13 relievers who pitched 10 or more innings out of the bullpen, Smith had the third-best ERA behind Jeurys Familia and Seth Lugo.
Although Smith did not play much and had a few bad outings, he provided a struggling Mets bullpen with a string of solid appearances from the middle of the season to its conclusion.
Despite having a sixth-ranked rotation with a 3.54 ERA, the Mets bullpen was ranked 28th with a 4.96 ERA in 2018. Brodie Van Wagenen naturally viewed the bullpen as an area in need of upgrades this offseason and he began that task by trading for Edwin Diaz and signing Jeurys Familia.
In its current configuration, the Mets bullpen has plenty of options, but few locks. Beyond Diaz, Familia, Lugo, and Gsellman, nobody in the bullpen should be considered an absolute lock at this point. This frees up a spot for Smith to fight for in spring training.
Although Van Wagenen said the Mets likely won’t add another big arm to the bullpen, they will likely add one or two more mid-tier relievers. If the Mets were to sign and/or trade for a few more relievers, Smith’s chances of a full-time gig in the pen would clearly become less likely.
Regardless of what happens throughout the rest of the offseason, Smith will at least have a limited role in the 2019 Mets bullpen. After all, teams go through a myriad of relievers throughout a season. Just last year 25 different players pitched for the Mets out of the bullpen. If he doesn’t begin the year on the big league roster, we will certainly see Smith at some point next season.