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Red Sox fans shouldn't panic yet, Smoltz can still pitch

Comebacks are something John Smoltz has been familiar with his entire career, but on Thursday night in Washington DC it was different. This time his comeback was with the Boston Red Sox, the first team he has ever played for besides the Atlanta Braves in 21 years. And with his first out at the major league level since early 2008, he was on his way to a long anticipated fresh start with the Boston Red Sox. But that hype soon ended after a hit batsman, a walk and three RBI singles amounting in a four run lead for the Nationals and a 36 pitch inning for Smoltz. That’s not exactly what Red Sox fans had in mind after a few dazzling performances in his rehab starts to go along with his Hall of Fame resume of 200 plus wins, 150 plus saves and over 3,000 strikeouts.

Within minutes of Smoltz’s rough inning my phone rang with the mind of a Sox fan at the other end asking questions like: “What will we do with Dice-K on the dl, Smoltz not pitching well and all the rumors being circulated about Brad Penny being traded?” “Should we call up Clay?” “Or should Masterson go back to the starting rotation?” “Or should the Sox try to make a trade for…”

To the Sox fans that began to panic upon Smoltz’s bad inning—much like the one who called me that night—I offer a simple solution. Don’t panic. We have a four game lead on the Yankees, the best bullpen in the MLB and a team that never quits. And that’s just for starters. We are going to be just fine. But if I were to offer a solution to ease the worries of the Nation it would go something like this:

Smoltz was making his first start at the major league level in over a year. As a pitcher, let alone a player, there’s a lot of emotion and stress that goes into that. As fans, we must take into consideration that he was making a start for a team other than the Braves, and for a franchise that expects and demands a lot from their players and team. The guy’s only human, he just wanted to come out and make a good impression on the Boston fans. Though that didn’t start off well, the last four innings of his outing were certainly promising. So what if the guy had a bad inning where he wasn’t trusting his stuff and was leaving his pitches up in the zone to hitters like Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham who can take full advantage of a mistake pitch. His emotions were high and he didn’t trust his stuff, leaving him to throw his entire arsenal at the hitters in the first inning without establishing any kind of rhythm on the mound. But once he started to trust his stuff and settle down, he gave the Sox four solid innings of one run, one hit ball—including striking out the side in the fifth before departing.

Sox faithful trust me when I say that John Smoltz is far from washed up. He’s still got good control to go along with years of experience and a devastating slider—not to mention his domination in the post season (can somebody say Curt Schilling’s replacement, just without the mouth to go along with it). The guy still has it at 42 and there is no need to panic just yet. But it seems like just because we’re in Boston we tend to worry more than other city’s sports teams and scrutinize our players more often on 24-hour talk radio shows.

Let me ask you something: Was Red Sox nation concerned when Jacoby Ellsbury started the season unable to hit his way out of a paper bag? Were we concerned with the whereabouts of Jon Lester before his three consecutive starts with 10 strikeouts or more? And were we not infatuated with the struggles of David Ortiz before June came along?

All I’m saying is it is just one start, from a guy who knows what he’s doing out on the mound and there is no need to get worried about his performance this soon. Maybe this thought never even crossed your mind, and you’re as patient and as faithful as I am, but I’m sure it has for some fans wondering what else the Sox could have reeled in for five million dollars this off-season instead of spending it on a 42-year-old righty coming back from a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder. I’m just putting the issue to bed now before it ends up becoming more of an issue than it should be. Smoltz has still got it, trust me. End of story.


Greg "Seabass" Sebastiao

2 comments:

  1. Great article Seabass!
    As a life long Sox fan, albeit, impatient at times, I agree that we should not be worried about the current lineup and pitching staff. Having siad that, I can't believe we blew a 9 - 1 lead last night.
    Keep up the good work.
    BL

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the insightful comments. I thought I was the only one happy to see Dice K on the DL. Loved your blog. Can't wait for the next. GP

    ReplyDelete