Jim Salisbury was the first to report the news on Twitter last night that the Phillies were interested in the lefty,
Source: Phillies have expressed interest in lefty Drew Smyly, who opted out of his minor-league deal with Brewers today and is a free agent.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) July 18, 2019
and this morning the news came to fruition.
Confirming that the #Phillies have signed Drew Smyly to a major-league contract. Nothing definite yet, but sounds like he's going to join the starting rotation, possibly bumping Vince Velasquez to the bullpen. Here's our story from last night on Smyly:https://t.co/g5yE2Iz0gt— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) July 19, 2019
What at first looked like minor league depth in case of injury or further deterioration of Jake Arrieta’s elbow, with the news that it’s a major league deal, that means he is headed right into the rotation.
It sounds like Smyly could start a game this weekend for the Phillies. They could bump either Pivetta or Velasquez to a late-inning relief role. Smyly, 30, had an 8.42 ERA with TEX, then pitched in AAA for MIL. https://t.co/oY75pA1r4H— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 19, 2019
Well that’s an interesting turn of events.
Look, right now, Smyly isn’t much. He started this season on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery with the Rangers, but holy hosanna did it go poorly. These were his numbers from his 51 1⁄3 inning stint with Texas:
13 G (9 GS), 8.42 ERA (8.02 FIP), 9.12 K/9, 5.96 (!) BB/9, 3.33 (!!!) HR/9
It was ugly and inevitably led to his release from the organization. He was picked up by Milwaukee on a minor league deal where he performed much better, halving both his walk rate and home run rate, simultaneously upping his strikeout rate, albeit against minor leaguers. With that success and the opt-out clause in his contract, Smyly decided to test the market and apparently has found a home.
Look, let’s call this for what it is — a total roll of the dice by the Phillies. The way this pitching staff has performed, it would have been borderline negligence to just bury their heads in the sand and ignore what was going on, so hoping that Smyly pans out in the next few days buys them at least a few days to decide what to do at the deadline coming up. If he works out, great — they have another option for the rotation. If not, they can release him and go on their merry way.
The more interesting part is who gets moved out of the rotation. Based on what Matt Gelb reports, he’ll start this weekend. The projected starters for the series at Pittsburgh are:
Saturday: Zach Eflin
Sunday: Vince Velasquez
The logical move is to let him start Sunday and bump Velasquez into the bullpen. We’ve been advocating it for a while now, so it could be that the move becomes permanent. Smyly could also wait until Tuesday to make his Phillies debut against Detroit, bumping Nick Pivetta out for the second time this season. Either way, this rotation other than Arrieta and Aaron Nola has just been put on notice.
While this may not satisfy everyone in the fanbase, it at least signals the management knows the rotation is in need of some help. Whether it pans out or not, we’ll have to wait and see.