Drew Smyly Makes Rays Debut | The Process Report

Drew Smyly Makes Rays Debut

Drew Smyly made his debut with the Rays on Tuesday night. In taking a loss to the A’s, he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings. Though his team and surroundings were new it was very much a typical performance for the left-hander.

Smyly threw four types pitches versus Oakland. He featured a 90-92 mph fastball, an upper-70s curveball, a cutter – also categorized as a slider.  that was a bit harder than the breaking ball and an changeup that was a bit softer than the hybrid. Of the 107 pitches he threw, the composition was primarily made up of fastballs, curveballs and cutters.

From the beginning it was clear to see the changeup was the fourth option. Meanwhile, on the rare occasions it was used, it appeared to be useful if not with a chance to be something more.

Later in the game, Smyly faced noted lefty-masher Jonny Gomes. After two high fastballs to start the encounter, he spun a 78-mph changeup arm-side and down which coaxed a swing and a miss. The need for an off-speed pitch versus right-handed batters like Gomes was evident at times as he had trouble putting them away even after reaching two strikes. The changeup will likely be a focal point in any plans the organization has for him.

True to the scouting reports, Smyly had a good feel for where the ball was going and was able to manipulate fastball location depending on the batter. He typically worked away, but was not afraid to come inside versus right-handed batters or elevate the pitch when needed. In fact, his two-strike approach was similar to Jake Odorizzi in the way he intentionally went to a high fastball to finish plate appearances.

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He recorded nine outs with fastballs including four of his six strikeouts. In terms of missing bats, the modest heater accounted for six of the 14 whiffs he induced.

In regards to feel or confidence, it appeared Smyly is very trusting of his curveball. The breaking ball came in behind the fastball in overall usage and the 25-year-old was not hesistant to use it in a variety of counts or to batters on both sides of the dish. He threw nearly as many hooks with two strikes (13) as he did to start plate appearances (11). Of the 11 first-pitch curves he threw, seven put him ahead 0-1.

If you were searching for some flash, the cutter – or slider depending on your choice of identification  – looked to have the most chrome. He threw the pitch just 11 times but was able to get four whiffs on nine swings. Three of the pitches ended plate appearances including two strikeouts. In the fifth inning he struck out Sam Fuld with a pitch that initially looked like an 83-mph, belt-high fastball but took a sharp nosedive and landed well beneath the barrel of the bat for a swinging strike three.

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The results were unspectacular. The process to achieve those results were not without flaw. On the other hand, it is clear Smyly has good enough stuff and a feel for the craft. Typically, the Rays acquire pitchers prior to – or close enough to – their major-league arrivals. This means they can do much of the molding and alterations out of the public eye. There is no such cloak for Smyly which make him an interesting case study going forward.



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