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this-could-be-the-last-time-smoltz-facing-season-ending-surgery-again | June | 2008 Articles

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This Could Be the Last Time: Smoltz Facing Season-Ending Surgery, Again

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At 11:30 this morning, the Braves held a press conference in which John Smoltz announced that he will need season-ending surgery on his shoulder. He's a fierce competitor, but that shoulder's been ragged for a long time, and the chances are very good that he has thrown his last pitch. Missing most of spring training to focus on his own training regimen, he entered the season as our #1 starter, and was brilliant, with an ERA of 2.00 in 5 painful starts, his slider as devastating as we've ever seen it. He missed the entire month of May, throwing 4 scoreless innings down on the farm at the end of May before rejoining the big club two days ago. In his first appearance back, he showcased new arm slot, but gave up a couple of hits, clearly was off with his command, and it seems that what has been wrong with his shoulder all season won't be alleviated by a new slot and a shorter pitch count. If this truly is it for John Smoltz, let's take a minute to reflect on the man's career. He's the only pitcher ever to move successfully from staff ace to closer to staff ace, though each move was necessitated by injury. Here's what he did in all his various incarnations.

G
IP
W
L
SV
BS
ERA
K
BB
HR
WHIP
Starter (regular season)
466
3133 2/3
206
141


3.33
2731
942
260
1.19
Reliever (regular season)
242
261 1/3
4
6
154
15
2.41
280
50
17
0.98
Starter (postseason)
27
187 1/3
13
4


2.55
177
63
14
1.14
Reliever (postseason)
13
19 2/3
2
0
4
1
3.66
17
4
3
1.07
Total regular season
708
3395
210
147
154

3.26
3011
992
277
1.17
Total postseason
40
207
15
4
4
1
2.65
194
67
17
1.14
Total
748
3602
225
151
158
16
3.22
3205
1059
294
1.17
He's accumulated 288 Win Shares in his long career, and as Bill James has estimated that for pitchers a Win Share is more or less equivalent to a win, by that measure he's nearly a 300-game winner. With the exception of Mariano Rivera, he's the greatest big game pitcher of his generation, and has pitched the equivalent of a Cy Young season in the playoffs. If he never throws another pitch, he's in the Hall of Fame. And he's been an Atlanta Brave his entire career. It's been fun, John. I'll look forward to seeing you on the PGA tour. Update: New poll question. Will John Smoltz ever throw another pitch?

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