John Smoltz

Impossible to predict what will happen. Reconversion from a reliever to a starter has happened a few times in the past, but I don’t think it’s ever happened with a pitcher as old and as accomplished as Smoltz.

Smoltz is 55th on the career saves list. Of the pitchers ahead of him, reconversion projects were attempted on Randy Myers, Rick Aguilera, Goose Gossage, Dave Righetti, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Danny Graves. The only one of these to be successful was Wilhelm, but for any number of reasons that doesn’t seem comparable. On the other hand, none of these guys had the record of being a long-term successful starter that Smoltz has. Aguilera had been a starter about ten years before, as a young pitcher, and had been average. Righetti had about two and a half years of being a fairly successful starter, but that too had been nearly a decade before his reconversion, and he hadn’t been pitching well as a reliever. The rest were career relievers, often from their minor league days, who had fallen on hard times and were trying to find a way to help. That’s what most of these attempts had in common — they were trying to get something out of a player in decline. John is old, but there was little sign of decline last season. He’s only five years removed from being a good starting pitcher.

I think that if John stays healthy, he will pitch well, if not be as dominant as he’d been as a reliever. It’s suspected that the Braves will try the Pedro Martinez usage pattern with Smoltz, limiting to six innings/100 pitches, maybe getting him more long rest. If Hudson is healthy, that may be possible, because he can be a workhorse. I don’t know how Smoltz will take that, because he’s thrown a lot of innings in his career and is used to at least getting close to finishing what he started. (He’s tenth among active pitchers in complete games.) He can be stubborn sometimes, but I think they need to keep some firm limits on him, and not just early in the season but throughout it.

Smoltz is all over franchise leaderboard, as you’d expect. Seventh in franchise history in wins with 163; Burdette is ahead of him with 179. Third in appearances to Niekro and Spahn, first in saves, fifth in innings (far behind Glavine in fourth). Third in strikeouts, and if he lasts the season will pass Spahn for second. He’d probably have to pitch at least three seasons to catch Knucksie at the top. Sixth in starts, will pass Maddux for fifth with his third. He’s listed in most of the negative counting stats as well, no surprise for a guy who’s pitched as much as he has.

John Smoltz Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

3 thoughts on “John Smoltz”

  1. I hate to comment totally off topic, but there is an article in today’s AJC that reveals that Marte won’t be playing in the outfield *at all* this season. The plan, after a couple of days in the DR working in the outfield, is for him to stay at third indefinitelty. At least this will generate some interesting debates for the next 12 months.

  2. I love this guy. His politics notwithstanding, Smoltzie has brought me the most consistent joy of any Brave. I’m thinking now he’s going to be the guy i reminisce about 30 years hence when someone asks who “my favorite player” was/is.

    Anyway, i’ve said before, i think one of the cool things about this position switch is that he will spend more time in the dugout during games instead of the bullpen. you know, i think that will help keep spirits up. When you think of the talent and experience that will be sitting in the dugout this year (jordan included, you have to give him the latter at least), it’s a good mix for the younger guys on the team to interact with.

    hopefully the pitchers out in the pen also benefit from his knowledge and example as well though. Smoltz did say “we’re going to have a great closer this year” and i’m hoping that means he’s going to teach Kolb the art of the strikeout.

    Good call, Mac, on the stubbornness and the need for Pedro-esque treatment. he should be allowed to stay in a game if his pitching is economical, but otherwise should probably preserve the arm. however, early reports on the ajc said that he has arrived at camp leo in great shape. he has had injury or surgery recovery in what, three of the last four offseasons? but this time he was able to keep up steady workouts.

    It’ll be great to see Smoltz up his placement in Brave lore as well, as the season progresses. If this rotation stays healthy, y’all, this team should have a shot at No. 14.

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