Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
The Carson Smith Experience has been a true test of patience. Wade Miley’s doing his best to remind everyone how lopsided that trade seems to be, but Smith’s only pitched 2.2 innings for the Red Sox so far. If he’s the pitcher he was in 2015, when he threw 70 innings and posted a 2.09 FIP, he’s one of the Red Sox’s best arms; he’s the pitcher that Red Sox fans use to pretend they don’t miss Andrew Miller. With good reason, though:
That is an 45 incredible seconds. That pitch to Nick Castellanos made me legitimately laugh out loud. But everything being written about the outlook of the Red Sox bullpen seems awfully presumptive when it comes to Smith. Andrew Bailey had a sub-3 FIP (among a number of other impressive stats) the year before he got traded to the Red Sox. Tommy John recipients continue to make huge strides in terms of health and longevity, but recovering from TJ is still not a sure thing. We can hope and even expect that he’ll be good in 2017, but we should stop short of presuming he’ll once again be excellent.
What went right in 2016?
Nothing, really! He hurt his arm in spring training, came back in May and pitched three times over the span of 11 days before getting shut down and opting for elbow surgery.
What went wrong in 2016?
The part of the previous answer that had to do with hurting his arm in spring training, coming back in May and pitching three times over the span of 11 days before getting shut down and opting for elbow surgery.
What to expect in 2017?
More than likely, a solid bullpen arm. There will be strikeouts — especially to right-handers, who he struck out 40% of the time in 2015 — and ground balls aplenty; Smith had the sixth-best ground ball rate (64.8%) of all qualified relievers that year. It’s hard to get a gauge on what to expect when Smith’s only pitched more than 70 innings once in three seasons, with the other two seasons totaling a combined 10 innings. My official guess is that Smith, coming off a calendar year without pitching, starts slow, blowing two saves in July, the uglier of which is a four-run disaster in Tropicana, which makes every loss look worse. The fans freak out, Dombrowski and Farrell say all the right things about how he needs to get some more experience while simultaneously removing him from any high-leverage situation. Tyler Thornburg becomes the new Carson Smith. He toils around without a real role for 3-4 weeks before going on an under-the-radar run of excellence and returns to backend of the bullpen in September. How’s that for a specific prediction!
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