John Smoltz announced yesterday that he will be taking a studio job with TBS for the time being. That essentially rules out any return to the big leagues by opening day for Smoltz. The future hall-of-famer did say he isn’t officially retired, leaving a return possible, but for the foreseeable future, John Smoltz will not be pitching in the big leagues.
It looked like Smoltz was done last year after struggling with the Boston Red Sox. Smoltz gave up 37 runs in 40 innings in that stint, for an ERA of 8.33. His peripherals, however, suggested that he could still be a productive pitcher, as he posted a 3.67 K/BB and a 4.95 FIP despite an uncharacteristically high 14.8% HR/FB rate.
A move to St. Louis suggested that there was still some gas in the tank. He put up a stellar 2.73 FIP, 2.76 tRA, and 3.46 xFIP in 38 innings with St. Louis. Overall, we have Smoltz as a 1.5 win player in a measly 78 innings in 2009. Even if Smoltz doesn’t have the durability to be a starter any more, there seems to be sufficient evidence that he could be a very productive reliever.
The projection systems all like Smoltz for 2010. These systems all consider age, and yet of the five systems we show on the site (CHONE, ZiPS, Marcel, Bill James, Fans), the worst projection is CHONE’s at a 4.00 FIP. All the others think he’s at least a 3.82 FIP pitcher, making him a well above average pitcher. There’s no way that some team can’t find a spot for him in their rotation (St. Louis, Milwaukee, Seattle, as examples) or bullpen (Minnesota, for one).
It’s always disappointing when talent is forced out of the big leagues, for whatever reason. Still, I, for one, don’t think we’ll have to wait too long for Smoltz to find his way back.
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