Mar 22, 2016

Late 2000's Mets Relief Pitcher: Joe Smith (2007-2008)

Joseph Michael Smith was born on March 22, 1984 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The six foot, two right handed Smith was the New York Mets third round draft pick in 2006 (the 94th pick overall).

He pitched on the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones team in 2006 earning nine saves with an 0.45 ERA in 17 appearances. He was named one of the Top twenty Prospects in the minor leagues by Baseball America. 

 When Duaner Sanchez went down after his taxi cab accident in Miami during the 2006 season, General Manager Omar Minaya, considered bringing up Smith, but chose to make the trade for Roberto Hernandez & Oliver Perez instead.

photo by centerfieldmaz
Smith had an outstanding Spring Training in 2007 and surprised everyone when he made the team going north. He became a popular player and was known as an all around good guy at Shea Stadium. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a batting practice session before an interleague game against the Minnesota Twins & he was a gentleman. 

Smith made his MLB debut on Opening Day 2007, pitching in relief of Tom Glavine in a 6-1 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. He would pitch his first 16 2/3 innings before allowing a run, which didn't come until May 13th against the Milwaukee Brewers.


On April 24th he earned his first win, in an extra inning victory vs. the Colorado Rockies. On May 2th he allowed a run in the top of the 12th inning to the San Francisco Giants, but came up with a win as Armondo Benitez balked home a run in the bottom of the inning, followed by a Carlos Delgado walk off HR. Smith pitched well in the first few months of the season, keeping his ERA under two until mid June. 

He earned his ninth hold of the season on June 15th, holding down the A.L. New York club in a 2-0 Oliver Perez shut out saved by Billy Wagner. He began to wear down in July, allowing runs in three of five games taking a loss to the San Diego Padres as well.

Smith was sent back to the minors for a tune up. returning in September, for the pennant run. The Mets fell short again, missing the post season with a loss on the final day of the season. Smith finished the year 3-2 with ten holds, 45 strike outs, 21 walks in 44 innings over 54 appearances, posting a 3.45 ERA. 

 In 2008 he was one of the best Met pitchers out of the bullpen, and one of the only relievers to actually be successful. His pitching motion is somewhere between a side armed & submarine style delivery, which can be especially tough on right handed hitters. He began April with four holds, but blew two saves in May.

On June 10th he took a loss to Arizona, serving up a HR to Chris Snyder. On July 6th he closed out the final three innings in an extra inning game at Philadelphia, the Mets won the game on Fernando Tatis HR, giving Smith the win. 
 In August he recorded seven holds & closed out the month with a win in a 5-4 game at Florida over the Marlins. From September 2nd through the 10th, he was credited with three relief wins & added another against the Chicago Cubs on September 25th.

He appeared in 82 games (second on the club to Pedro Feliciano) posting a 6-3 record with a 3.55 ERA. He struck out 52 batters in 63 innings pitched. HIs .637 winning percent was third best on the club behind Duaner Sanchez & Johan Santana. 


In the 2008 off season he was part of a 12 player deal, going to the Cleveland Indians, with the Mets getting J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed & Sean Green. In Cleveland he appeared in 37 games posting a 3.44 ERA in 2009. 

He spent five solid seasons in the Indians bullpen, as a fine middle reliever, earning a reputation as reliable work horse. In 2012 was second in the A.L. in appearances with 71. He would appear in 70 plus games in each of the next four seasons. In 2012 Smith was 7-4 posting a 2.96 ERA, recording 21 holds. 

His manager in his early days in Cleveland (2010-2012) was Manny Acta, whom he knew from their days with the Mets. 

In 2013 Smith started out the year 4-0, for new manager Terry Francona, not taking a loss until mid July. He ended the year at 6-2 with three saves & 25 holds to his credit. He led the AL Wild Card Indian staff in ERA (2.29) and was tied for second to Cody Allen in appearances with 70. Smith was part of a fine Indians bullpen that went 25-11 with a 3.30 ERA. That year he made it to his first post season.


In 2014 he signed on with the LA Angels of Anaheim & continued his fine pitching. Smith was second in the league in appearances with 76. He went 7-2 with 15 saves & 17 holds, posting a 1.81 ERA striking out 68 batters while walking just 15 in 173 innings. He took over the set up role when Huston Street went out with injury.

Post season: Smith pitched two scoreless innings in two games of the ALDS loss to the Kansas City Royals.

For 2015 Smith went back to the set up role to, shining with 32 holds to his credit, as Street went on to 40 saves & Smith notched five more of his own. He also went 5-5 with a 3.58 ERA making 70 appearances (9th most in the AL).

In his eight year career, Smith is 39-23 with a 2.88 ERA. He has appeared in 585 games striking out 436 batters & walking 192 in 518 innings pitched.

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