Well, what have we got? It appears that we have an absolutely superb closer who can’t be stretched into anything more, whether that’s starting or a pre-Eckersley “relief ace” role. Smoltz still wants to start, by all accounts, but his elbow doesn’t seem to be up to the strain. He was hurt late in the season and clearly not right when he came back, then needed his elbow tweaked after the playoffs.
When he was able to pitch, he was at a Cy Young level, 64 2/3 innings in 62 games, 45 saves and a 1.12 ERA. It would have been interesting to see how the CYA voting would have gone if he’d been able to stay healthy, especially if he made a run at the saves record. When he went down, there was a rousing Smoltz vs. Gagne debate going on.
Moving up the leaderboard: Smoltz now has 110 career saves (in only about two full seasons’ worth of relieving) and is two behind Wohlers for second place on the franchise list. A remotely healthy season should put him ahead of Garber’s 141 for the franchise lead. 20 and 1/3 innings will pass Burdette for fifth on the list. No surprise, he’s the franchise leader for K/iP.