The heart and soul of the Braves pitched as well at age 40 as he ever has, and there’s no sign that he won’t do the same at age 41. You’ve probably seen that Bill James’ projection system had Smoltz winning the most games in the league in 2008. Simply put, this is a combination of a good offensive team and a pitcher who isn’t slowing down at all as he ages. The most important statistic for projecting a pitcher going forward is strikeouts, and Smoltz’s strikeout rate in 2007 was excellent, fifth in the league. His control is better than it’s ever been. The combination means that he led the league in strikeout/walk ratio. He’s as good of a bet as anyone to win the Cy Young Award.
Over the three seasons since returning to the rotation, he’s pitched almost as well as he did from 1995-1998. The terrible, terrible relief pitching of Reitsma and Kolb likely cost him five wins, at least, over the first two seasons of the period, and possibly a Cy Young Award in 2005… Did not have a complete game in 2007, the first time that’s happened in a full season as a starter.
Won his 200th game last year, and passed Niekro as the franchise strikeout leader. No chance to move up the franchise lists this year except in a negative category: he’s two losses behind Vic Willis for fourth. 97th in major league history in wins, at a spot where he could move up in a hurry; he could easily be about 70th at the end of the year. I think he needs over 240 to guarantee a Hall of Fame plaque. Commence voicing other opinions on this now.