John Smoltz Headed Back to 'Pen Where He Belongs

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John Smoltz Headed Back to 'Pen Where He Belongs

I called it.

Not to brag or anything, but a few weeks ago I told a roommate that John Smoltz would be back in the Braves' bullpen before he retired. He looked at me like I was crazy.

However, it appears that Smoltz is in fact headed there following his stint on the DL. As a Braves fan, I couldn't be happier. It's where he has to be now.

"I'm coming back as a reliever first and then we'll see what happens," he told MLB.com's Mark Bowman. "I'm content with this."

His absence will definitely be felt in the rotation.  Undoubtedly, a lot of fans will question his move, at least for now. But Smoltzie has reason to be content. 

"I hear people say that we can't win without me as a starter. But we're not going to win with me as a five-inning starter either."

Bingo.

Five shutout innings just won't cut it with a bullpen, particularly long relief, that has been flat out bad.

The sole reliever to be consistent (Peter Moylan) now looks like he's going to have season-ending surgery. Also, Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano are still on the DL.

This is the right move. In case you forgot, Smoltz dominated in the 'pen from 2001-04, converting 154 of 168 opportunities.

Granted, he's not exactly a spring chicken anymore (he'll be 41 in less than two weeks), but why not?

"It's hard to doubt him if he feels that's all he can do physically to help the team," Tom Glavine said. "I don't think any of us are going to be complaining if he comes out of that bullpen with us having a one-run lead."

It may be a bit of a struggle with the rotation at first, but it will be fine.

Tim Hudson's going to be Tim Hudson, the young Jair Jurjjens has been incredible (3.05 ERA in six starts), and Chuck James and Buddy Carlyle are decent enough as fourth or fifth starters.

Glavine is in the same kind of five-inning boat as Smoltz is, but he doesn't have the stuff that would make him a good reliever.

(For painful and obvious reasons, Mike Hampton will not be included in this discussion.)

And with the Braves' wealth of middle infielders, there's got to be someone looking for a second baseman like Kelly Johnson who would eagerly part with one of their better pitching prospects.

Think about this—when everybody's healthy, the Braves would have Smoltz, Gonzalez, and Soriano in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.

The Braves would go from one of the worst 'pens in the National League to what could be one of the best.

So guys, if you're worried about this or questioning the thought process behind it, just relax. It will all turn out fine.

Oh yeah, and I totally called it.

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