Monday, April 07, 2008

Outlook for John Smoltz Still Unclear

Though John Smoltz struck out six while surrendering just two hits in his most recent victory -- his decision to take himself out of the game after throwing just 78 pitches over five innings points to continued health difficulties for the 41-year-old Atlanta Braves ace.

Having missed time early last year and again this spring due to discomfort when he throws, Smoltz appears to be taking it easy on his troubled shoulder to make sure not to overstress it, which of course could undercut his potential numbers of starts for the remainder of the season.

Smoltz took himself out early in the 3-1 win over the Mets even though he hates to come out of a game before the sixth inning, having averaged approximately 6.5 innings per appearance last year and over the past four years since he left the bullpen for the rotation.

Smoltz frequently lasts into the seventh inning and occasionally beyond, and has a dogmatic objective to do so, which can be expected to be his goal for the rest of the year if he can only stay healthy.