Recapping John Smoltz’s Boston Red Sox Debut…

Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz made his long awaited debut tonight against the Washington Nationals, and I would say it went…okay. I say okay because after Smoltz gave up four runs in the first inning, he settled down and pitched four solid innings after.

The final line for Smoltz – five innings, seven hits, five runs, one walk, and five strike outs. He threw 92 pitches, 62 of them were strikes. Not great, but not bad either. It was really the first inning that did Smoltz in.

Even at 42, and with all of Smoltz’s experience, there are still nerves, anxiety and even rust. That was clearly the case in the first inning. He was missing his target with his fastball and his breaking stuff wasn’t that sharp. He hung two curveballs to Josh Willingham and Josh Bard that I could have hit.

I was really surprised Smoltz and Varitek stuck with the breaking ball for a good part of that inning. Smoltz threw over 30 pitches in the first, and I would say that close to 70 percent of those pitches were something offspead. It wasn’t very Smoltz-like.

Smoltz was okay in his debut

Smoltz was okay in his debut

Why his pitch selection was so surprising to me, was because his fastball was consistently clocked in the low-90’s. He even hit 94 on the gun to one batter. I would have thought he would have thrown his fastball more. Establish the fastball and then work in the offspead/breaking stuff.

At one point, I didn’t think Smoltz was going to get out of the inning. But thankfully in the National League, the pitchers hit, and Smoltz was able to strike out Jordan Zimmermann to end the inning.

After the first, Smoltz settled down, and pitched very well. He retired the last eight batters he faced and struck out the side in the fifth inning, which turned out to be his last inning of work. In that inning, Smoltz showed that wicked, fall-off-the-table splitter that he is famous for to strike out Bard.

I would give Smoltz a grade of C on his debut performance. Again, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t terrible either. As George Costanza would say he was “right in the meaty part of the curve.”

If Smoltz can give the Red Sox five innings every start from here on out like he did the last four he pitched tonight, the Red Sox will take it. If you really think about it, that would no different than what Daisuke Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox the past two years.

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