Thursday, June 25, 2009

Smoltz back, but worth a pickup?

No, the line wasn't pretty:  5 IP, 7 hits, 1 BB, 5 K, 5 ER.

But don't discard John Smoltz's first outing of the season and debut with the Red Sox.

Sure, it came in D.C., but the Nats are a pesky-hitting bunch and when you look at the bigger picture, there were several encouraging signs for Smoltz owners (or all you wanna-be's out there who can't quite muster up the nerve).

  • Rust factor: For starters, 4 of the 5 runs came in the first, as did 4 of the 7 hits and the lone walk. In anyone's first inning, there's bound to be nerves, regardless of the experience level. Giving up just one run and three singles in the next four inning is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Velocity: Smoltz was in the low-to-mid 90s at times, averaging 91.7 mph, which shows the arm strength is not an issue.
  • Control: Of the 92 pitches thrown, 62 were for strike (67 percent) and Smoltz's one walk shows he's still got the pin-point accuracy that he famously would paint the corner in Atlanta for a million years. 
The next start at Baltimore will be even more telling, but one look at Smoltz's pre-All-Star schedule and it's almost impossible not to pick him up on speculation: at Baltimore, vs. Oakland and vs. Kansas City.

And perhaps most telling is the what the 42-year-old Smoltz, fresh off shoulder surgery, had to say afterward.

"I feel like I can accomplish whatever I want this year," Smoltz said. "That's why I came back and the rehab went the way it did. Now it's just a matter of going out there and doing it like I did before."

And knowing how competitive Smoltz is, I wouldn't count anything impossible.

Fantasy spin: Sure, it's a little risky to add a 42-year-old who pitches half his game at Fenway, but this is no ordinary flame-thrower. Now, that Smoltz has a little of the rust off, it could be the perfect time to add him. All it takes is one gem and he'll be flying off the shelves. Look for an ERA just under 4.00 and a nothing-to-write-home-about 1.25 WHIP, but with plenty of Ks and Ws in the second half.


Stan Olson said...

Hey Trevor, as a guy who has written about baseball for about a thousand years, I can tell you this--you do a helluva job with this blog!

Anonymous said...

Hey Trevor, I'll take a chocolate shake.