A Fantasy Relevant John Smoltz Returns to the National League

Grant Correspondent IAugust 24, 2009

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 06:  Starting pitcher John Smoltz #29 of the Atlanta Braves takes the signs from the catcher against the Houston Astros in Game Two of the 2005 National League Division Series on October 6, 2005 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. Smoltz recorded his 15th post-season victory to break his own record that was tied yesterday by Andy Pettitte of Astros as the Braves defeated the Astros 7-1 to even the series at 1-1.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

By the time this sentence is finished, it will probably be too late.  Expect John Smoltz to already have been added en masse by a majority of every fantasy format except AL only leagues.

As of Sunday night Smoltz was owned in only 12 percent of ESPN leagues and one quarter of those on Yahoo.  In CBS supported formats the 21-year veteran was rostered by almost half of the participants.

According to principal Edward R. Rooney, Ferris Bueller missed school nine times and John Lennon obviously had to go through eight revolutions to come up with a Yoko influenced Revolution No. 9.  But today John proved he is a cat with nine lives.

Roughly two weeks ago Smoltz was released by the Red Sox after a largely ineffective 2-5 stint resulting in a behemoth 8.32 ERA.

Last Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals were more than happy to sign the Gwen Stefani no doubt for Cooperstown bound right-hander to bolster a seemingly playoff destined pitching staff.

The only question that loomed was whether Smoltz would be more effective as a starter or out of the bullpen.

As Smoltz is the only pitcher in Major League history to compile 200 wins and 150 saves, it seemed like a win-win situation for the Redbirds.

But so far this year, though dominate in the first and mostly second time through a lineup, Smoltz has been absolutely lit up the third time a team sees him in a game.

Therefore, it appeared the proper move was to have John participate in a role of relief.  Particularly since the Cardinals do not have an established eighth inning bridge to the surprise closer of 2009 and king of all things goatee Ryan Franklin.

Yet, the under appreciated genius known as the St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan fixed the fact the heel of Smoltz was coming of the rubber and "some [other] minor things.

As a result, John fanned nine batters in five innings of work today.  Granted, they came against a hapless San Diego squad.  Nonetheless, Smoltz struck out seven batters in a row, a feat he had never done before in his distinguished career.

After Smoltz's performance, it is evident he will now solidify a Cardinals rotation anchored by Cy Young darkhorses Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.  A fact especially evident considering the cake walk schedule St. Louis has on the docket for the month of September.

In fantasy baseball, chasing wins is always a dangerous proposition.  But with the Cardinals constant potential for an absolute kinetic offense, John Smoltz is a must add for starting pitcher starved owners.

If he is still available.

In other fantasy news...

Carlos Marmol notched his first save after being named the Cubbies closer.  Employ him with Gary Cherone extreme caution.  Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles is most likely waiting to be picked up off the waiver wire.

The Rockies are going to sign a batting-below-the-Mendoza-line Jason Giambi tomorrow.

The New York Mets former closer Billy Wagner came off the 60 day DL last Thursday and whiffed two batters in a scoreless inning of relief for his 2009 debut.

Confident no team would want to pick up his two million dollar contract and pay for a 2010 buyout, the Mets placed Billy on waivers.

However, the Red Sox had a scout in attendance and subsequently claimed Wagner, hoping to quickly secure a trade with New York.

But the former Ferrum College alum stated today he will invoke the no trade clause of his contract if no deal is made by Tuesday. 

Aaron Harang recently had an appendectomy and will be shut down for the year.  Apart from his 162 strikeouts, Harang has unknowingly found a way to be further irrelevant in 2009.

Unproven and overpaid power pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg will not see action this year.

Strasburg still warrants a keeper league waiver wire claim as he is supposed to be Sidd Finch personified (in pitching talent only, not for, as far as anyone knows, a bare left foot French Horn phenom).

Recent fantasy star of the last fortnight Carlos Gonzalez cut his hand with a steak knife in his home Saturday night.

The Colorado Rockies outfielder is expected to miss at least a week of action, if not more.

Feel free to make comparisons in the comments section below to Carlos Quentin breaking his wrist right before the fantasy baseball playoffs last year.