The Atlanta Braves skipped Drew Smyly: other changes coming?

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher (?) Drew Smyly. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher (?) Drew Smyly. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Braves
Orioles 1st baseman Ryan Mountcastle after a 1st inning homer off Atlanta Braves pitcher Drew Smyly. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /

Not the Braves’ inning-saver

On no occasion has Smyly pitched into the 7th inning this season.  In fact, that hasn’t happened since the last week of the 2019 season.  You have to go back even further (April of 2016) to find a time when he completed 8 innings… in a 1 hit shutdown of the Red Sox.

That’s a bit of a problem for someone hired as either a bounce-back candidate or an ‘innings eater’.  While Smyly does have 111 innings this season, he almost certainly won’t reach 150… but then that’s been consistent with his career: only exceeding that mark twice (in 2016 and 2014:  175 and 153 innings, respectively).

Smyly is averaging 92.1 mph on his fastball this season, which actually meets or exceeds the speed of every other season he’s been in the majors (excepting 2020, which was obviously highly unusual).

That said, the charts at brooksbaseball.net do suggest that he’s been fading in recent weeks.  Also:  these days, he’s only been throwing that fastball, his curve (almost equally often), and the occasional cutter.  That limted mix doesn’t help him get past the 5th or 6th inning, either.

All of these pitches are running slower than at the beginning of the year… over 1 mph slower in the case of the fastball and cutter.

Another aspect of Smyly’s result is tabulated over at baseball-reference.com.  Among Braves’ starters with at least Muller’s innings, Smyly now ranks…

  • 5th in Runs above Replacement level
  • 7th in Runs scored Average per 9 innings (ERA, but adding all runs scored)
  • 5th in pitching WAR
  • 7th in ERA
  • Last in strikeouts per 9 innings
  • Last in WHIP

All of these things appear to be conspiring together to the point that the Atlanta Braves are giving Smyly a break… at least.