In maybe the least surprising news ever, Carson Smith will need surgery on his shoulder, effectively ending his year. Grand opening, grand closing for Smith’s 2018.
The story of one of the dumbest injury in the history of injuries continues. The Wade Boggs cowboy boots incident, the Joel Zumaya Guitar Hero saga, and this. The hat trick of stupid baseball injuries.
For those who need to catch up, the Spark Notes version of this freak injury is that Carson Smith had a tough go of it one night on the mound for the Red Sox last month. In an act of frustration, he threw his glove. Smith said he didn’t think he threw his glove irregularly, and that fatigue played a factor in the damage.
Manager Alex Cora is a smart person.
Dear Mr. Cora,
Signed, other people with a brain
To roughly quote Snoop from The Wire, “Fatigue’s got nothing to do with it.” Since acquiring Smith from Seattle for Wade “The Swamp Monster” Miley prior to the 2016 szn, he’s pitched in a whopping 29 games–18 of them this season–and completed a monstrous 23.2 innings–14.1 of them in 2018. The numbers this year aren’t horrendous, but they certainly aren’t incredible; he’s got a 3.77 ERA (3.66 adjusted for defense) and a WHIP just below 1.40 with 18 punch outs. That’s a far cry from his rookie campaign of 2015 where he completed 70 IP with a 2.31 ERA (2.12 adjusted), a 1.01 WHIP, and a ridiculous 92 K’s.
The multitude of injuries surrounding Smith’s tenure in Boston have been maddening because we’ve seen how good he can be. He was expected to be a solid 7th or 8th inning guy leading up to Craig Kimbrel when we arrived here, and so far it’s really been underwhelming.
I mean look at this resume of injuries.
If it were some Joe Shmoe who just ate innings when the Sox were getting pummeled, it’s not a huge deal. But Smith, again, was clearly a coveted piece for this ball club when he got here.
Thankfully, the bullpen has been solid this year before and after Throwgate; they rank 5th in MLB with a collective 2.98 ERA; Arizona’s pen has a 2.53 for comparison. Boston also has the fifth best opponent batting average when calling to the bullpen, and have the second most saves in baseball behind, ironically, the Miiiiiiiiiiiriners.
But having an uber strong bullpen would be just a delight, especially in this day and age in baseball. Teams pay handsomely for elite relievers nowadays. The Royals won two straight AL pennants and a World Series on the back of their excellent bullpen. The Indians were able to contend in the past two seasons–and win themselves a pennant–with a shut down bullpen. This year, Cleveland has arguably the worst bullpen in the majors. Shortening the game with three or even four lights out guys is deeply coveted in this era of baseball.
Kimbrel is a lights out guy. Kelly has been fantastic this year. But without a Carson Smith at the top of his game, and without a Tyler Thornburg who I’m convinced exists as much as the Easter Bunny, you may not have that elite shutdown bullpen that is soooo important come October.
Tyler Thornburg’s entrance music
Maybe someone else will step up? Maybe it won’t matter as much for this team like it didn’t really make too much of a difference for Houston last year? Who’s to say. But I’d just like a healthy Carson Smith and a healthy Tyler Thornburg. Maybe we’ll get the latter, but the former seems to be gone for the foreseeable future.