What’s Next for Smoltz?

The Atlanta Braves announced yesterday that John Smoltz was going to have to undergo season ending surgery. Players and coaches alike agreed that his loss to the team is devastating. On and off the field he is the leader of that team, and he has given everything to the team and the fans. So much so that it took the inability for him to even use his right arm to drive home after pitching this week to agree to the surgery.

So what’s next for 29? Will he be able to return to the mound next year? Or was his 9th inning appearance on Monday the last chance we had to see him take the mound? And if he has thrown his last pitch, was his career enough to punch a ticket to Cooperstown?

Let’s handle the last question first. In short, there is no doubt that Smoltzie should be and will be in the Hall of Fame. Most of you have probably heard that there are only two pitchers in the history of the game with at least 150 wins and 150 saves. Smoltz is one of them; Dennis Eckersley is the other, and he is in the Hall. So how do the two match up?

 

Wins

Losses

Saves

ERA

K’s

BB’s

Batting Average Against

WHIP

Smoltz

210

147

154

3.26

3,011

992

.245

1.17

Eckersley

197

171

390

3.50

2,401

738

.246

1.16

Smoltz has the edge in winning percentage, ERA, strikeouts. Eckersley obviously had more saves and fewer walks, and the two are pretty much even in BAA and WHIP. Eck deserves to be in the Hall. So does Smoltz. He’s dominated as a starter and as a reliever. Even with his shoulder causing chronic pain the last year he was flat out nasty and he was pitching the best baseball of his career, which is saying a lot.

Smoltz is also one of the best big game pitchers of all time. His 15 playoff wins are a record, and it seems like the bigger the stakes the better he pitches.

He is one of the premier pitchers of his era, and one day he will be giving a speech from Cooperstown.

The bigger question at this point is if he will have a chance to add to those numbers or will he half to retire? Ultimately, that will come down to what they find when he has his surgery. But I, for one, will not bet against him returning. Smoltz has been written off by the press a number of times over the years. They said he wouldn’t be able to overcome the numerous surgeries on his elbow. He did. They questioned whether he would be able to close. He did. They said he couldn’t make the switch back to starter again. He did. And in every time, not only did he prove them wrong but he was still one of the best in all of baseball.

Smoltz knows his arm and his abilities better than anyone, and if he says he can stil come back then I believe him. If the surgery proves more complicated then they’re anticipating, then he’ll let us know if he’s going to call it a career. But until he says otherwise, I believe the Hall of Fame bound face of the Atlanta Braves will be back on that mound next year.

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One Response to “What’s Next for Smoltz?”

  1. Personally, anyone with an HOF vote that doesn’t put Smoltzie in Cooperstown should have that vote taken away. The guy is flat out Hall material, and even more so for the fact that he was a decent guy his whole career – as opposed to some of our other, more “dubious” heroes from this era.

    As for him pitching next year – I hope he gets on the phone and convinces Mad Dog and Lefty to call it quits with him. I would LOVE to see 29, 31, and 47 all stroll into the Hall together. Actually, I would love the be the fourth in their group when they play golf the weekend they go into the Hall…

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