2 Days Until Camp Opens
With less than a calendar month to go before baseball begins to smell new again we wanted to spend each day going through some of the best performances in 2016. Using game WPA for 15 starting pitcher and hitter performances we hope to be able to take you on a trip down memory lane each day.
Almost there, kiddies. Before the big tease, though, we’ve still got a couple of great games to commemorate starting today with the best, most important game thrown by a Rays pitcher in 2016. The honor goes to Drew Smyly and it is completely deserved. Smyly gave up two walks and a single, but otherwise flirted with perfection. All three baserunners came in the third inning, but he was able to pull the Houdini on a grounder rolled to Longo at third just prior to a jamshot double play to get out of the inning. I say he flirted with perfection, because he did not allow a baserunner in any of his seven other innings. Add in eleven strikeouts, and you can see why Seattle was eager to trade a really good package for this guy.
The highlights below show all you need to know. Batters were baffled, and I especially like the Betts strikeout that resulted in him throwing his bat due to how mixed up Smyly had a pretty good hitter. He was painting the corner and then taking guys out of the zone with regularity. They were happy to oblige. While this is obviously a tremendous performance, the other reason it ranks as the best for a Rays starter is because he wasn’t the only one dealing. Neither team put a run on the board in regulation. Smyly was not only incredibly good, but the team absolutely needed it as even one run could have flipped the score. The Rays managed to pull it out in the tenth thanks to a Kiermaier homer, but they may have never gotten there without Drew Smyly’s epic performance.