Last season turned out to be a wasted year for Carson Smith, as a Spring Training injury snowballed into him having Tommy John surgery mid-season. 2017 will not be a full season for Smith, as he’s still recovering from the surgery. When you consider Tyler Thornburg’s recent injury, the Red Sox pen could be in some serious trouble at the start of the year.
Smith is slated to be on track to return sometime in June.
What should we expect from Smith?
Most casual Red Sox fans probably do not think much of Carson Smith, mainly because they haven’t seen him in action. Smith saw just a total of 2 ⅔ innings of work before he was shut down in 2016. When you consider that the Red Sox gave up virtually just Wade Miley for Smith in the 2015 trade, you wouldn’t expect much from Smith. However, the 27-year old was completely dominant in 2015 with the Seattle Mariners. Smith boasted a miniscule 2.31 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. In the setup role, Smith collected 22 holds and even saw 13 saves in a limited closer role.
Overall, he has a career 2.00 ERA in 81 innings. Clearly, Smith is lacking in experience, so you might expect some regression when he returns later in the year.
In addition, pitching in Boston and having to deal with the stress of the Boston media might get to Smith. Smith is also coming from a pitchers’ park in Safeco, which could have benefitted his numbers.
All these factors are a huge concern in regards to Smith’s numbers. The Sox have a huge need in the innings leading up to Craig Kimbrel and will heavily look to Smith once he returns.
Miley-Smith trade. Was it a good one?
Although the trade has been completed now for almost a year and a half, the Red Sox really do not have much to show for it. They have seen just 2 ⅔ innings from Smith and a woeful 7 ⅔ innings, equating for a 12.91 ERA from Roenis Elias.
On the flip side, Wade Miley posted a 5.37 ERA between Seattle and Baltimore last year. Needless to say, the Sox definitely didn’t miss that stat line.
The trade also allowed the Sox to save a good chunk of salary and opened the door for Steven Wright to shine in 2016. Even with the small production so far by Smith, it looks like the trade was a positive for the organization.
When you consider everything, Smith really is a wild card this season. Yes, he was dominant in 2015, but that was only one season. A good sign though, is that a lot of pitchers come back stronger from Tommy John surgery.
If Carson Smith can command his pitches and post a low ERA, he could be extremely vital to this Sox team. He could fall right into that eighth inning role which would be best case scenario.
Playing devil’s advocate, Smith could really struggle in Boston. The pressure could get to him or worse, the 2015 season could have been a complete fluke.
If you consider all factors, Smith’s effectiveness might not be like it was back in 2015, but he could still be extremely effective. Another positive is that Smith won’t have to worry about the wear and tear of a full season, as he won’t be ready until June.
When you really think about it, a lock down eighth inning guy like Carson Smith, really could make all the difference in regards to where this team ends up this year.