Well, Drew Smyly didn’t really work out. Or did he?
The Braves signed Drew Smyly in November of last offseason after he had a very nice 26.1 IP run in the shortened 2020 season. He had seemed to unlock some spin rate capabilities, and he was as effective for San Fran as he ever had been since he was in his promising early 20’s. In 5 starts and 2 relief appearances for San Fran, he racked up 42 strikeouts in those 26.1 innings, an otherworldly 14.1 K/9. FIP loved him; his 2.01 FIP was the lowest of his career.
So Atlanta took a chance on him for a one year deal at $11M per. As a reliever, starter, or both, he should have been able to pitch enough decent innings to be worth that $11M.
I don’t think he did, personally. He was healthy, so he was able to give us 126.2 IP in 29 games, 23 of them starts. There’s something to be said about having Veteran Presents in the clubhouse, in the dugout, out in the pen, etc. And for a young staff, Smyly probably provided that. He seems to be a nice enough fella from Little Rock, AR, and I bet he brought something to the staff in that regard. But his results were mixed. Gone was some of the spin rate data that seemed to fuel that K-machine performance from 2020 as he turned in one of his worst strikeout rate performances of his career. Was he a victim of the sticky ban? Probably not as he was pretty bad right out of Spring Training.
He also succumbed to some of his worst home run rates for his career as well. All told, his 4.48 ERA and 5.11 FIP were numbers you probably shouldn’t have to pay $11M to get. B-Ref had him at a 0.8 bWAR.
He divided the fanbase pretty good too. Some people thought he was something of a glue guy for the staff, which I argued above may have some merit. Some thought he was a failed signing from the beginning, doomed to produce woefully unacceptable results (still waiting on that $20, Chief). I think the answer is probably somewhere in the middle: he gave us slightly on the lower end of what we could have expected.