In the biggest game of their season, the Giants were happy to turn to Drew Smyly.
Looking back on his season, Drew Smyly was happy he turned to the Giants.
Sunday’s starter, who went five strong innings with two runs allowed and 10 strikeouts in the 5-4, season-ending loss to the Padres at Oracle Park, will now enter free agency for a second straight season and has set himself up for more than the $4 million baseline pact he got from San Francisco before this season.
A finger strain put him on the injured list for nearly six weeks and he only appeared in seven games, maxing out at 5 1/3 innings because his season was spent building up. But when he pitched he was terrific, posting a 3.42 ERA with stuff that improved as the season lengthened, his 37.8 percent strikeout rate the eighth best in baseball among pitchers who threw at least 25 innings.
He could not be perfect to extend the Giants’ season, but he said he “absolutely” would be open to extending his stay at Oracle Park.
“I honestly, truly loved it here,” the 31-year-old from Arkansas said after Sunday’s loss. “I think it’s a great place to pitch, it’s a great city to be in. The weather, the teammates, the guys, the culture … I loved everything about playing here.”
Kevin Gausman answered similarly, the Giants front office’s rotation bargain-hunting last offseason working out for signer and signee. Both to-be free agents will be more expensive this time around, despite Smyly only pitching 26 1/3 innings; he will be another year removed from Tommy John surgery, showed better velocity at season’s close and his injury was not one that typically recurs.
Gausman stands as the more likely qualifying-offer candidate, while Smyly is probably not quite at the level to command a one-year deal for about $17 million. Both he and Gausman made a case for a multiyear deal that they likely will be able to attract on the open market.
The Giants’ rotation has lost Jeff Samardzija, and Trevor Cahill will be a free agent, too. Coming back will be Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb and Tyler Anderson, with Tyler Beede hoping to rejoin the ranks at some point next season.
Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, Masahiro Tanaka and Taijuan Walker are among the free agents who will lead the market.
“It was fun showing up at the park every day,” said Smyly, a statement that takes on some heft in a campaign marked by COVID protocols. “Everyone on the team got along really well. It was just easy to show up and try to get the win. And when you have a locker room like that and a culture like that, you’re excited to play every day and you know guys behind you are going to come in and pick you up.”