The Texas Rangers are by far exceeding expectations this season and need to solve their Drew Smyly problem to take the next step.
Today, June 10th, 2019, the Texas Rangers sit 4 games above the .500 mark and currently are a game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race. They, by all accounts, have exceeded expectations for them to this point in the season and have a real shot at making it into the playoffs this season. Most of this is due to a lineup that has become among the best in Major League Baseball thanks to a breakout season for Joey Gallo and some resurgent years for vets. This is also despite a pitching staff that ranks in the bottom third in the league in ERA, quality starts and batting average against.
Those above remarks aren’t an indictment on the pitching staff as a whole. There are some relievers who are having solid seasons like Jesse Chavez and Shawn Kelley. Mike Minor has emerged as a true ace and has been as dominant in anybody in the league. Lance Lynn has been consistent in the rotation and Ariel Jurado alongside Adrian Sampson has taken steps forward. But, while the rotation has its saving graces, Drew Smyly, the fifth starter, has been objectively poor this year.
Texas acquired Smyly this past offseason from the Cubs when he became a casualty of the Cole Hamels player option in Chi-town. He came in as a part of a pre-season rotation that became known as the “Tommy John crew” and hopes were that he could rediscover his pre-injury form. At 30, Smyly is considered still in the middle of his pitching prime and it seemed like a good addition by the Rangers. However, Smyly has struggled mightily as a part of the rotation and has become a hot button topic within Rangers’ circles. In 9 starts (11 appearances) this season, the lefty has a 1-5 record and an ERA of 8.40. He’s allowing well over 1 baserunner per inning with a WHIP of 1.911 and his strikeout to walk ratio is 1.42, well below his career average.
Texas as a team is 3-6 in games started by Smyly and 4-7 in his appearances. Perhaps the final straw for the organization and definitely for a large portion of the fan base was Smyly’s start Sunday afternoon where he allowed 5 earned runs in 3 innings. It was a game that Texas nearly came back and won late, losing 9-8 despite a 9th inning rally. This was seen as a winnable game for Texas against a division opponent and if not for a poor start and then poor relief appearance by Shelby Miller (we’ll touch on this in a different story), the Rangers could’ve come away with a series win against Oakland.
The calls started pretty quickly after the run came that it was time to pull the plug on the Drew Smyly rotation experiment. However, while this seems like a simple move to make, finding a replacement for Smyly is tougher than it seems.