I remember Mets fans, including myself, being frustrated the organization let relief pitcher Aaron Loup walk this offseason. Loup was the reliable go-to out of the bullpen when the Mets had to get out of jams or bridge the starter to closer. What was already considered a lackluster bullpen got worse without him.
But an unlikely person has risen to the occasion.
Drew Smith, 28, has been a bright spot in a bullpen that needed more control over their pitches and can handle big moments. With early inconsistency from Trevor May, who has since been put on the injured list for at least four weeks due to a stress reaction in his right humerus, and Seth Lugo, Smith became a bright spot every time he steps on the hill.
As of Sunday night (May 8), Smith’s stat line this season is: 12.1 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 5 walks, and 16 strikeouts. He is one of two relievers with at least 12 innings pitched and no runs allowed this season, along with J.P. Feyereisen. The Mets are 11-0 when Smith pitches.
Smith is finally in good health after being sidelined at the start of last season with a right shoulder injury. He also finished the season injured. Last year, he made 31 appearances with a 2.40 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 41.1 innings. He missed all of 2019 after having Tommy John surgery and did not look good in his eight appearances the following season, bolstering a 6.43 ERA over seven innings.
This season, Smith added a slider to his arsenal and is working on adding a change up or split to have three quality pitches he can choose from, Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said on The Mets Pod.
“He’s a hard worker,” Hefner said. “He’s a blue-collar guy. He wants to get after people and certainly has all the intangibles and the repertoire to (pitch in the eighth inning).”
If Smith can remain healthy, there is no telling what he can produce for this team.
“I am just thankful to pitch in any situation, but obviously, the bigger situations are a little more fun, so I don’t want to say I am getting used to it, but I could get used to it as the year goes, hopefully,” Smith said prior to a game against the Phillies, per Mike Puma at New York Post.
For now, though, Mets fans and the organization should sit back and watch Smith work his magic in high-pressure situations, and can hopefully let out a sigh of relief when he trots out of the bullpen and enters the game.
(Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports/Cropped)