Robert taking this one…
One of the ‘bridge’ players that spanned the era of desperation and futility to the era of prosperity and rejoicing, Peter John Smith was one of the young guns of the late 80s pitching staffs that didn’t work out, along with Kevin Coffman and the long lamented Derek Lilliquist.
After a decent first year as a full time starter in 1988 as a 22 year old (7-15, 3.69 ERA, 100 ERA+) he regressed in 1989 to 5-14, 4.75 ERA, 77 ERA+. During this time we were constantly told that Pete had the best stuff (better than Smoltz?) on the staff and it was only a matter of time until he put it all together. During the ’89 season Skip would muse that Smoltz and Glavine
were going good, if only we could get the Smithes going we would have something. Pete (5-14) and Zane (1-12) never got it going that season.
1990 brought another horrible Braves team, but also Steve Avery and Charlie Leibrandt. With Smoltz and Glavine established, Pete Smith (and Lilliquist) were pushed aside. Pete went 5-6, 84 ERA+ as the fifth starter in 1990, and 1-3, 77 ERA+ in the same role on the 1991 breakthrough team.
Suddenly the Braves were contenders and that meant no longer having time for a constantly disappointing, no-longer-that-young pitcher, good stuff or no good stuff. Mike Bielecki had been brought over from the Cubs late in 1991 (good bye Turk Wendell and Yorkis Perez, we hardly knew you) and was installed in the fifth spot in the rotation for the 1992 season, while Pete was sent to the minors. Bielecki did a bang up job out of the fifth spot (ERA+ 142, although only 2-4) so it looked like the final chapter of Pete’s Braves career had been written.
However — to Pete’s credit — he went down and worked hard and when Bielecki was knocked out with an injury in August something magical happened. He put it all together just like we had all been promised he would. Down the stretch in 1992 Smith went 7-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 11 starts. More than that, in the 11 games Pete started the Braves went 11-0! He capped that with pitching well in his only career postseason (1.35 ERA), and got into a game in the ’92 World Series.
The magic was gone in ’93 however, and after bouncing around the league he finished up his career in 1998 with the Orioles.
Pete was a first round pick of the Phillies out of high school in Massachusetts. The Braves acquired him with Ozzie Virgil for Milt Thompson and Steve Bedrosian before the 1986 season as the Braves finally decided the Bruce Benedict and Rick Cerone fiascos behind the plate required some action. Let’s see how that trade worked out:
Win Shares with the Braves:
Ozzie Virgil: 35
Pete Smith: 28
Smith was traded for Dave Gallagher who the Braves got 3 WS out of while slowing the development of Ryan Klesko. Virgil left as a Free Agent.
WS with the Phillies:
The Phils then flipped Bedrosian for Terry Mulholland (48), Charlie Hayes (23), and Dennis Cook (4) Thompson was flipped for Steve Lake (8) and Curt Ford (1)
So they kicked our butts in that trade. Big surprise. At least we’ll always have that magical run in 1992.