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A Great Big Welcome to John Smoltz

With the recent struggles of Red Sox Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, veteran John Smoltz’ debut could not have come at a better time. Smoltz will start Thursday night in front of a sea of Red Sox fans (in Washington D.C.). This is perfect timing for Smoltz. He does not have to face the pressure of pitching against his former team, the Atlanta Braves, and he gets to face a familiar team in the Nationals. They are the NL East, where John Smoltz spent the majority of his career. Not only should he know the Nationals very well, but they are the worst team in baseball, which should make things that much easier.

Smoltz is an absolute stud and should be a Hall of Famer. He is the only pitcher in major league history to top both 200 wins and 150 saves. He also has over 3,000 strikeouts in his career. Smoltz has a life time ERA of 3.26. He uses the occasional curveball and change-up mixed with a fastball, a very good slider and a split finger that he had used to get a majority of his 3,011 strikeouts. Smoltz could be extremely useful if he stays healthy this season. He is 42 years old and has a history of injury but he is a stud in the postseason. He is 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA and 194 strikeouts in the playoffs.

This will be the first time Smoltz has pitched in the bigs since June 2, 2008, over a year ago. He had surgery on his labrum and ended last season with a 3-2 record. Even with his age and injuries, there’s no way that he can be worse than Dice-K, who is 1-4 with a 7.55 ERA and is now walking anything that moves. The WBC can probably be blamed for Dice-K’s struggles but that’s a different story. Smoltz has had very good control in recent years and should bring the Red Sox’ walk numbers way down.

The eight-time All Star, 1992 NLCS MVP and 1996 NL Cy Young Winner should provide a lot of help to a team that has built up a 5 game lead on Toronto and New York and is up 7 games on last year’s American League Champion, Tampa Bay. Even if Dice-K regains his form and if the Sox can’t keep their young stud Clay Buchholz from coming up from Triple-A, Smoltz should provide quite a lift. He could even make the surprisingly good Brad Penny available and with pitchers at a premium so far this season, he could be a hot commodity. And who’s to say he can’t make the league’s best bullpen even better during the post-season? He does have 154 career saves. But for now, Smoltz is a starter and as long as the 42 year old stays healthy, he should be a pretty good one. Welcome to Boston, John Smoltz.

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