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Drew Smyly was not Cliff Lee 2.0

However, for a guy they got off the scrap heap, he wasn’t bad

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
Not pictured: Cliff Lee
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The numbers (with Phillies)

12 G, 3-2 W-L, 4.45 ERA, 25.9 K%, 8.0 BB%, 0.6 fWAR

The good

Smyly began 2019 with the Texas Rangers after missing two consecutive seasons thanks to a torn ulnar collateral ligament. His comeback didn’t start off well, and after putting up an 8.42 ERA in 13 games, the Rangers released him in mid-July.

The Phillies quickly signed the lefty, and there was brief hope that they had uncovered a diamond in the rough. His first two starts were impressive enough to prompt comparisons to Cliff Lee.

While that didn’t last (more on that below), he was solid in September, and was arguably the team’s second best starter in the final month. He showed an ability to strike batters out, and in his final start, he had ten strikeouts in 6.1 innings against the Nationals.

The bad

Unsurprisingly, a pitcher who was released midseason did not turn out to be the next Cliff Lee. Smyly was very bad in August, recording a 7.20 ERA for the month. In his bad starts, he was often victimized by the home run, giving up 1.9 homers per nine innings.

The future

Smyly is a free agent, and there have been whispers that the Phillies might try to bring him back. While they should absolutely not count on him as anything more than rotation depth, I wouldn’t be opposed to signing him to a minor league deal. The rotation could certainly use left-handed options, and there’s the possibility that with another year between him and his injury, he could show improvement.