The Closer, and with the departure of Tom Glavine the Dean of the Braves by five years. He set the NL record for saves last season, but that’s not really that big of a deal; saves are a hugely overrated statistic. John was used basically as a one-inning reliever, 80 1/3 innings in 75 games. I think he can do more, and Bobby might want to use him for more two-inning outings, especially with the departure of Hammond and Remlinger.

In those 80 1/3 innings, he was pretty awesome, striking out 85 and allowing only 83 total baserunners. His ERA was only 3.25, but (as has been noted) that’s distorted by one early-season debacle against the Mets when he gave up eight runs. Take that out, and his ERA was 2.37, and it was 1.42 after the break. (John is on my APBA team, and I think that one game is probably going to cost him at least three points, and me probably at least three games in the standings. But I am not bitter.)

There’s always some speculation about John returning to the rotation. It won’t happen this year, not with a completely reconfigured bullpen (and an elderly one at that), but it’s a real possibility for 2004 if Maddux walks… Already fifth on the franchise saves list, and should at minimum move up to third this year, possibly by the break.

John Smoltz Statistics –