Drew Smith came into 2022 on the rise within the Mets’ relief staff. After Tommy John surgery sidelined him for a year-and-a-half, he had a good season in 2021, with the promise of potentially being a reliable piece in the Mets’ bullpen for years to come. In 2022, Smith continued to make good on that promise, though injury issues once again kept him from achieving his full potential (or even just a full season).
Smith got in 44 games this season, a career high for him at this point, and threw 46 innings, another career high. Both his 10.37 K/9 and 2.93 BB/9 improved from last season. His 3.33 ERA was almost a full run higher than last season’s 2.40, but his 4.33 FIP was down a bit from 2021’s 4.69. Smith was essentially the same pitcher he’s shown himself to be in the past, a good-not-great middle reliever who is a more trustworthy than most but can and will still be tripped up by the long ball (as evidenced by his 1.76 HR/9 and 15.0% HR/FB rate). He also had some serious ups and downs over the season, with a first month with a 0.00 ERA, but then coming back down to earth in May with a 4.05 ERA, and then bouncing up and down for the rest of the season.
But as always with Smith, his season was once again interrupted by injury. At the end of July, Smith was placed on the injured list with a lat strain, and he wasn’t able to make his way back to the big league team until towards the end of September, missing a lot of the crucial games in the midst of the Mets playoff push. Since the end of his first season in 2018, Smith has spent part or all of every season on the injured list. Tommy John wiped out his entire 2019 and part of the shortened 2020 season, in 2021 he dealt with multiple injuries including shoulder inflammation, and this season the lat strain. While he’s reliable in terms of pitching performance, he is very unreliable when it comes to health.
But Smith is essentially guaranteed a significant bullpen spot next season. Unless the Mets re-sign every free agent reliever they have and then some, Smith figures to factor heavily in the Mets 2023 bullpen. Other than Smith, the only reliever the Mets have who threw more than 20 innings for the team is Stephen Nogosek, and they also have options for Mychal Givens and John Curtiss (who they signed while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery). While the Mets have a decent shot at re-signing some of their relievers and will probably sign other free agent relievers, it stands to reason Smith will have the same position he did this past season, if not more usage and higher leverage situations.
Drew Smith is a quality piece for the Mets bullpen. He hasn’t been a lights out, elite arm by any stretch, but he’s consistent, pretty trustworthy, and can be used in various situations. As a controllable arm, he’s perfect for the Mets bullpen, as long as they keep him in his current role and don’t attempt to count on him for tons of high-leverage situations. But with the Mets bullpen up in the air this offseason, who knows what his role will be come spring.