Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Waiver Wire Cage Match: Drew Smyly vs. Colby Rasmus

Drew Smyly:

Drew Smyly has gone back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen since starting his major league career. After a slightly above average 2012 (107 ERA+), he had a very strong 2013 (176 ERA+/2.31 FIP).

Even with Smyly going going back to the starting rotation he has continued to pitch strongly so far (2.45 ERA/177 ERA+). He looks to be good help if your looking for strikeouts (8.6 per 9) and his WHIP is at an even 1.

Currently, his FIP is at 3.20 which is consistent with his career total of 3.18. While Smyly started the season under the radar, he is one of those players that I think is set up to have a successful season but you'll have to keep a heads up just in case the Tigers decide to move him back to the bullpen.

Is he set up for a long career? My initial guess is yes but history may only partially be on his side. His most similar player through age 24 is Joe Price. While he did have an 11 year career, and had four seasons with an ERA+ above 130, he seemed to move in and out of teams starting rotation and ended with a 103 career ERA+. For Smyly's career ERA+ when all is said and done, i'm going to take the over and say it will be somewhere around 120.

His opposing BABIP is at .264 so he is in line for some regression but I still think he will be a valuable starting pitcher for both this year and his career. Also, since he is playing with a good Tigers team there is the chance that this will also contribute to helping increase his win total.


Colby Rasmus:

Rasmus is getting picked up primarily due to a recent hot stretch that has seen him hit three homers over his last five games. He has already been seen as someone with a lot of potential and at the very least able to hit at least 20 homers on a few occasions.

To date, his 2014 has produced some mixed results. While his batting average and OBP have been absolutely terrible (.230/.281) he has hit with plenty of power (seven homers) when he makes contact. While he's never going to be a major asset in batting average, his BABIP is at .284 which going forward should at least push batting average to around .250 and if things go right, he could give you in the range of 25-30 homers.

His most similar player through age 26 is current Mets player Chris Young. In the years since turning 26 (he's currently 30), he has produced double figure homers but progressively decreasing batting averages. In looking at other players in his top 10 similar lists, there are a few players on there that went on to have fairly long careers (Dwight Evans, George Hendrick, Jim Wynn) but then again Corey Patterson is also on that list so his career is still young enough to go either way.

Verdict:

In both cases, there is an argument for both players producing value going forward. Drew Smyly has quietly put up a strong season and his production as a solid starting pitcher appears to be sustainable. Colby Rasmus has produced strongly in some areas, not so strongly in others but I still have the feeling that there is a lot of untapped potential. That along with mediocre batting average and not much production in the stolen bases leads to a few too many holes to win this match-up.

Waiver Wire Cage Match Winner: Drew Smyly