Milwaukee Brewers: Playing a lottery ticket on Drew Smyly

Matthew Dewoskin
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 9: Drew Smyly #33 of the Texas Rangers stands off the mound as Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics rounds the bases on his two-run home run during the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 9, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 9: Drew Smyly #33 of the Texas Rangers stands off the mound as Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics rounds the bases on his two-run home run during the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 9, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Brewers have decided to play a lottery ticket! No, Mark Attanasio isn’t playing PowerBall. The Brewers have added left-hander Drew Smyly on a Minor League deal.

Drew Smyly has gone through a patch for the past three years as he’s worked his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Smyly made 30 starts in 2016 with the Tampa Bay Rays, and then he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow after joining the Seattle Mariners in 2017. He became a free agent, and signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs after the 2017 season, but never appeared for the Major League team. Smyly made his way to Texas before the 2019 season, and made his return to the Majors. He was also designated for assignment in late June, and elected to become a free agent.

The Milwaukee Brewers have added him on a Minor League deal, but will he ever throw a pitch for the Brew Crew?

What kind of deal is Smyly on?

The Rangers still owe Smyly about half of the $7 million he signed for. This means that the Minor League deal with the Milwaukee Brewers will only cost them a league minimum salary. It’s a zero-cost move for the Brewers, so anything they get from Smyly is a bonus.

Wasn’t Smyly a solid starter?

He was! He made 30 starts in 2016 with the Tampa Bay Rays, and posted a 4.88 ERA in 175 2/3 innings. He also struck out 167, walked 49, and gave up 32 homers. The strikeouts have always been there, and he could make sense as power lefty in the bullpen moving forward.

How did he throw in Texas?

Well, the good news is that he struck out 52 batters in 51 1/3 innings this year. The bad news is that he also posted an 8.42 ERA, walked 34 batters, and was tagged for 19 homers. That’s 19 homers spread across nine starts and four relief appearances. That’s a lot of homers.

It’s also good news that velocity isn’t an issue. Smyly is throwing harder in 2019 than he did in 2016. His fastball in 2019 has averaged 90.7 MPH, while his heater in 2016 averaged 90.2 MPH.

Where is Smyly headed next?

He wont’ be appearing for the Milwaukee Brewers until he solves his issues in the Minors. Smyly should slide into the rotation in Triple-A right away, and stay there until he works out his current issues.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have seen their rotation depth tested. Corbin Burnes has been forced to the bullpen. Jimmy Nelson is back on the Injured List. Gio Gonzalez won’t return until after the All-Star break. The Brewers need rotation depth right now, and Smyly has a Major League track record, legitimate talent, and he won’t cost them any money. This move is a total lottery ticket, but Smyly comes with zero risk for the team. Smyly probably won’t save the season, but anything the team gets from him is a bonus at this point.

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