With all the struggling relievers in the Detroit Tigers‘ bullpen this season, no one has been as consistent as Drew Smyly.
Smyly has brought his “A” game to nearly every appearance he has made this season for the Tigers, but it appears he’ll have to wait a little longer before he gets a chance to play in the All-Star Game.
Only Anthony Swarzak has logged more innings out of the bullpen in the American League, but his innings weren’t nearly as impressive as Smyly’s. Smyly has allowed just 38 hits and 12 earned runs in 52 innings pitched.
The most impressive of Smyly’s stats are opponent’s power numbers and their inability to do major damage off him. He has allowed just one home run through the first half of the season and held opponents to a .286 slugging percentage.
Smyly is more valuable to the Tigers than most other clubs. Outside of Joaquin Benoit, they haven’t been able to count on anyone else putting in consistent innings. The only other left-handed relief options the Tigers have are Darin Downs and Phil Coke, and both have struggled to get the job done from time to time. This leaves most of the pressure on Smyly to do the dirty work against left-handed hitters.
Smyly has tossed two innings or more on 11 occasions this season. He’s been the long-reliever the Tigers have turned to if they haven’t been able to get a solid chunk of innings out of their starter, and he’s also been able to rack up multiple-inning saves if need be.
Jesse Crain made the All-Star Game based on his 0.74 ERA, but even he hasn’t been as consistent as Smyly. Crain’s 1.15 WHIP is 15 points higher than Smyly’s yet he has logged 16 fewer innings.
Smyly won’t get the same type of national attention Aroldis Chapman or Mariano Rivera will simply because he isn’t a closer. However, that doesn’t mean his job isn’t one of the toughest and most important ones in the bullpen. He’s been the MVP for the Tigers’ bullpen, but he’s going to have to wait another year before he gets a chance to shine on the stage of the Summer Classic.