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John Smoltz is preparing to make his debut in a Cardinals uniform Sunday and if St. Louis’ luck continues, he will have a stellar performance.
The Cards have had some recent luck in picking up some new acquisitions. The addition of Matt Holliday turned out to be a steal. Although he is a free agent at year’s end, Holliday made an instant impact with a four-hit game in his St. Louis debut, and helped put the Cards atop the NL Central Division. St. Louis currently has an eight-game lead over the struggling Cubs.
So what is to be expected from Smoltz with his new team? With Boston, he went to a disappointing 2-5 with a 8.33 ERA. With St. Louis, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him strikeout 20, or pitch a perfect game. He seems more driven then ever sine the Red Sox basically gave up on him.
“I still believe I’ve got the intensity and the experience to pitch in big games,” John Smoltz told MLB.com when asked about redemption.
I don’t recall Smoltz having that type of mind set when he was pitching in Fenway. He appears to have a new set of goals and a new outlook on his game.
With over 20 years experience, Smoltz could bring leadership and experience to the Cardinals, something the Sox hoped he would’ve brought to Boston. The former Cy Young Award winner was a dominant starter and consistent closer, even leading the NL in Saves in 2002 with 55. He became the closer after he missed the entire 2000 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, an injury that ends many careers.
So, he might not be the proven winner he once was, but if he can lower his ERA, he could pick up a few more wins and add to his 3,000+ strikeouts. With bats like Holliday and Albert Pujols behind Smoltz, there will not be a lack of offense supporting him.
Anything can happen in Major League Baseball. Players have rebounded, moved to other teams and had instant success. Sometimes the only thing a player needs is a change of scenery. For Smoltz, he is looking to prove he is not done and have one last run in him, around the arch in St. Louis.
“That’s what this team (The Cardnials) and this franchise have been about, and I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised, or I wouldn’t be here today,” said Smoltz.