There is a lot of buzz among Braves fans after the team committed to Charlie Morton through 2022 over Labor Day weekend. The deal also includes the possibility for another go-round in 2023. Morton has been the signing of the offseason, but the same can’t be said about his counterpart Drew Smyly.
Smyly has been relegated to the bullpen, at least for the time being. I think that’s an okay role for him considering Josh Tomlin has been much worse. Regardless, looking at Smyly’s $11 million contract for 2021, you can argue he hasn’t even been worth half of that. He has, however, had some decent stretches over the season.
Smyly went 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in June but followed it with a dreadful August, posting a 6.08 ERA. His fastball looks flat, and he has a lot of trouble once hitters see him for the second and third time. Smyly gets tagged for a mile-high 7.11 ERA the third time through the order, but strangely, he does pretty well with runners in scoring position — only giving up a .218 batting average. He is truly an anomaly, but there’s no way he should return to Atlanta.
The Braves have plenty of young arms to test out, and the 13 best pitchers need to be on the roster. The rotation will be crowded with guys like Touki Toussaint, Tucker Davidson, Huascar Ynoa, and maybe even someone like Kyle Wright could be due for a call-up. In addition, the Braves need to bring back Freddie Freeman and consider a number of other extensions. With relievers like Chris Martin and Will Smith on not-so-great contracts, they can ill-afford to give out another one to someone as inconsistent as Smyly. The signing was questionable when it happened, and it’s safe to say it hasn’t panned out as Alex Anthopolous imagined. Time for the Braves to cut their losses at the end of the season and move on.