This afternoon the Red Sox did the inevitable and DFA'ed John Smoltz, not exactly stunning news for a 42 year old starting pitcher with a 8.33 ERA. It isn't difficult to breakdown why Smoltz struggled so terribly, two stats that jump out:
1) Lefties are hammering him to the tune of .444/.485/.767
2) From pitch 31 on Smoltz's slash line is equally gruesome - .388/.402/.741
Let's flip things around and look at a couple of other numbers though (small sample size acknowledged):
In 85 plate appearances right-handed hitters haven't done much - .232/.259/.390
Pitches 1-15 you ask? .265/.395/.294
Could Smoltz help someone as a one inning RH specialist? It sure seems like he might be able to. The Sox of course are well aware of these numbers and have asked him to go to the minor leagues to prepare to pitch out of the 'pen. There are some salary issues to work through (reportedly Boston would like a restructuring of his contract) that both he and the union may object to so the situation is unsettled at the moment. The other question is where exactly would he fit in Boston's pen? Certainly behind Papelbon, Bard, Okajima, and Ramirez. Likely behind Delcarmen and Saito as well. Doesn't seem like a huge need there.
What about another AL team pursuing the playoffs; where he started his professional career; close to where he is originally from? What about the Tigers? Detroit could use a RH set-up man to replace Joel Zumaya. The current set-up crew offers Bobby Seay & Fu-Te Ni from the left side and Brandon Lyon & Ryan Perry from the right. They haven't done a bad job, but it isn't hard to imagine Jim Leyland wanting to add a piece.
Who knows what Smoltz is thinking - does he want last night's pounding to be the final time he walks off a mound; does he feel obligated to try pitching in relief for Boston; would finishing his career in Detroit mean anything special to him?
Getting 20-25 innings out of John Smoltz isn't going to be the catalyst to propel the Tigers to the World Series, but it might help win the division. The need is there from Detriot's perspective, I'm guessing it happens.