Drew Smyly may be the newest member of the Mariners’ pitching staff, but he and Seattle’s hitters are already acquainted.
That’s because Smyly, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, racked up a dozen strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings against the Mariners in a June 15, 2016 game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
All but two of those 12 of those strikeouts came swinging, and each third strike was either on a fastball in the 91-92 mph range or on a dandy of a curveball that consistently fooled the Mariners’ bats. He took the win in that game with two runs allowed on four hits, no walks and a hit batter.
For his career, Smyly averages an impressive 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings, with his career high being 10.4 in 2015. And while he’s quite the strikeout artist, it may be his reputation as a fly-ball pitcher that helps him out the most in Seattle.
According to TeamRankings.com, Smyly had the second-highest rate in the majors of fly-ball outs per innings pitched with 0.73. The Mariners have a well-known spacious outfield in Safeco Field, and with Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia on the 40-man roster, they’re expected to have one of baseball’s best defensive outfields in 2017.
That could add up to a bounce-back year for the 27-year-old Smyly, who had a career-worst 4.88 ERA in 2016 – not that you’d be able to tell from his June start against the Mariners.