For the record, this writer was as enthusiastic as anyone about the prospect of inserting future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz in the 2009 Red Sox rotation. I supported Theo’s judgment in getting him, supported the reasoned rehab schedule and bought into the notion of having one of the best ever post-season pitchers in history ready for October.
However, with a more than representative sample size of eight starts (most against the dregs of baseball), it’s clear that the post-arm surgery John Smoltz is not what we had hoped for. With an ERA north of 8, it is no longer prudent to keep running him out every fifth day to get smoked. I know that guru pitching coach Leo Mazzone feels his “stuff” is still there–but we just can’t wait for the magic to come back (if it ever will).
It was a good gamble, but it just didn’t work. Thank Smoltzie for the effort, and bring Michael Bowden into the fray. Let’s sink or swim with the future, not the past.
As John Smoltz takes to the mound tonight in his Red Sox debut, there has been much speculation about just how good the future Hall-of-Famer will be at the post-surgery age of 42. Aside from the wild-card issues that could impact his performance (conditioning, rustiness, bad luck) it’s his track record that is the best indicator of what will happen between now and the end of October. Baseball is one of the few sports that offers such a rich sample size of past performances to pretty well project what might happen.
My strong belief is that the best measure of a pitcher’s worth is the “innings pitched to hits” differential. The fewer the number of hits to innings pitched, the better chance you have a quality arm in your stable. Not exactly sabermetric elegance, but it seems to work.
Only once in John Smoltz’s carrer has he given up more hits than innings pithced–his rookie campaign in Atlanta back in 1988. And, the sample size issue is important here as well–he only hurled a paltry 64 innings in that first year. For his career, Smoltz has yielded 416 fewer hits than innings pitched over an illustrious 20 year career.
Get ready for the good stuff.