Fantasy Notes: John Smoltz Rolling
July 8, 2006 | | comment on this post
John Smoltz has been on fire, but where are the wins?
In today’s notes, we look at John Smoltz’s great run (but lack of wins), the Braves’ closer situation, and David Ortiz continuing to prove us wrong.
- Since leaving his June 23rd start with an injury after recording just five outs, Braves starter John Smoltz has been on a roll. But the wins have been hard to come by thanks to lack of run support and some shoddy bullpen work that’s cost him four, perhaps five wins. Last Monday he earned his first victory in eight starts to square his record at 5-5. Smoltz followed that up Saturday with a remarkable outing for his sixth win. He’s dominated the Reds over the years, winning 19 games against them including a 13-0 mark over the past 16 starts. And Saturday’s eight-inning, six-hit, one-run, one-walk effort gives Smoltz a three-start line of 21 IP, 19 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB and 21 K since the injury scare. He really had it going Saturday, still gunning it in at 94 mph in his final inning. All told, the 39-year-old righty fanned at least 10 for the 39th time in his career. Smoltzy even contributed a pair of singles, the second of which drove in a run and was huge as the club rolled the dice and let him hit for himself in the bottom of the seventh with two on and two out while clinging to a one-run lead.
- It was Ken Ray — not Jorge Sosa — who pitched the ninth to nail down the save for Atlanta Saturday. Ray surrendered just one hit, shutting down the Reds to wrap things up for Smoltz (a rarity given that the bullpen has already blown six saves for Smoltz this year). Keep an eye on this situation; Manager Bobby Cox may just be going with the hot hand in Ray, or may be shifting Sosa out of the closer role entirely.
- Hey, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And so far, I’ve missed the mark with David Ortiz. I dealt him in my keeper league at the end of the 2004 season because I believed he was at his highest possible value and looking at that body type, the words ‘Mo Vaughn‘ just keep screaming in my head. So I moved Big Papi. Well, after bashing three dingers and driving in eight runs in the past two games, including his MLB-leading 31st jack of the year on Saturday, Ortiz now has 88 homers and 234 RBI since parting ways with my legendary San Quentin Injection club, a mere year and a half ago. Cue the heavy sigh.
- Remember how the common perception was that the Red Sox had to take Mike Lowell from the Marlins if they wanted Josh Beckett? With Lowell coming off a disastrous 2005 season and owed $9 million this year, it was essentially an opportunity for Florida to rid itself of a cumbersome salary. Well, the joke’s on the Fish. With his second straight two-RBI performance Saturday, Lowell’s renaissance season continues. He’s now batting over .300 with 45 RBI and is on pace for — get ready for this — 60 doubles. That is just silly.
- When I listed Jonathan Papelbon among my favourite rookies for the 2006 Fantasy Baseball Guide last November, I wrote that “with his poise, I expect Papelbon to be able to get over any rookie lumps he takes.” Of course, little did I or anyone else expect those lumps to be so miniscule and so far between. Saturday afternoon, Papelbon pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings — his fourth straight scoreless outing — to nail down a third straight win for the Red Sox and secure his 26th save of the season. Papelbon’s ERA for the year now? Uh, 0.41. I still believe he’s best suited to be a starter long term, but if he keeps pitching like this in the closing role, how can the BoSox move him? Craig Hansen looks like a terrific closer of the future for the Bosox, but Papelbon seems born for the job.