Will Smith didn’t have the best start to his Braves career; after battling COVID-19 before getting off to a slow start in a shortened 2020 season, Atlanta fans were feeling a little bit of buyer’s remorse when he got off to another slow start in 2021. Smith finished 2020 with a 4.50 ERA over 16 innings and didn’t record a single save. His FIP was also pretty worrisome, sitting at a massive 7.38. Relief pitchers typically don’t get huge contracts as Smith did, so his three-year, $40 million deal was in danger of becoming an albatross very soon. Thankfully, at least for now, he has finally started holding up his end of the bargain. Take a look at his last seven appearances.
Will Smith (Last 15 Games): 14.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 20 K (2.45 ERA, 0.68 WHIP)
Will Smith (Last 7 Games): 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP)
Atlanta’s bullpen has been abysmal, but Smith’s recent performance provides a glimmer of hope. Surprisingly, Smith has only blown one save on the season, and his 16 saves are good enough to tie for 6th best in the National League. With his total season ERA dropping to 3.58 after finishing yesterday’s game against the Reds, Braves fans should have a lot more confidence in their big-money closer. Smith and the Braves bullpen as a whole aren’t out of the doghouse just yet, but it’s nice to see a key piece take a step in the right direction.
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