Now that the 2023 season is over for the New York Mets, we have been looking back at the year that was. After taking a more general view of the offense, pitching, and coaching staff, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the Mets’ players. This series will take a look at every player on the roster for the Mets at the end of the season from A (Abraham Almonte) to W (Josh Walker). The review will look at their season statistics, stories, and what role (if any) they will have next season. We continue the series today with a look at relief pitcher Drew Smith.
Player Review: Drew Smith
2023 Stats: 63 Appearances, 56.1 Innings Pitched, 4-6 Won-Loss Record, 4.15 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3 Saves, 2 Blown Saves, 12 Holds, 60:29 K:BB Ratio, .240 Batting Average Against, 0.1 WAR
Story: After a solid 2022 season, Drew Smith entered 2023 with a lock on a role in the Mets’ bullpen. The initial plan for Smith was for him to be the fifth of five trustworthy relievers used late in games but he got bumped up a rung following Edwin Diaz’s season-ending knee injury. Smith pitched well over the first six weeks of the season, working to a 1.88 ERA over his first 16 appearances, but he hit a rough patch after that by surrendering eight earned runs over his next nine appearances to raise his ERA to 4.37.
A turning point in Smith’s season came on June 13, when he was summoned to work in relief during the first game of the Subway Series at Citi Field. Smith didn’t get to throw a pitch, however, as the umpires ejected him for having sticky substances on his pitching hand. Despite strong denials of doing anything wrong, Smith received a 10-game suspension, leaving the bullpen short-handed at a critical juncture of the season.
Smith returned on June 26th and promptly coughed up the first game he appeared in, serving up a two-run homer in relief of Justin Verlander against the Milwaukee Brewers that night to suffer the loss. That game would be the low-water mark for Smith, who was still used in middle relief and set up work out of necessity since Buck Showalter didn’t have a ton of trustworthy options out of the bullpen. Most of Smith’s appearances the rest of the way were fine but he had a few notable blowups that cost the Mets games down the stretch.
The sticky substance ban definitely hurts Smith and he also pitched a bit worse in 2023 than he did in 2022. Given the rest of the Mets’ bullpen, however, this performance is reasonable in comparison.
Contract Status: Arbitration Eligible (Third And Final Time)
Odds Of Returning: 100%
2024 Role: Middle Reliever
New President of Baseball Operations David Stearns opted to tender Smith a contract, meaning he will be back for his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent. The plan appears to be similar to last year in the sense that Smith will probably enter spring training fourth or fifth in the bullpen hierarchy, but Smith will look to bet on himself and re-establish his value ahead of reaching the free agent market for the first time.
Check back on Monday as our Player Review Series continues with a look at outfielder D.J. Stewart!