- The 42-year-old righthander is expected to serve as the Cardinals' fifth starter, though he eventually could move to a setup role for closer Ryan Franklin. St. Louis has been seeking a fifth starter since demoting righthander Todd Wellemeyer to the bullpen earlier this month. Given an opportunity to fill that void, righthander Mitchell Boggs went 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in two August starts.
Smoltz went 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts for Boston this season before being designated for assignment, and eventually released earlier this week.
Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan have been famously successful with veteran starters, and they don't come much more veteran than a 42-year-old right-hander who's on his way to Cooperstown. And as Pinto points out, it's not just La Russa and Duncan who Smoltz will have on his side; he's moving to the weaker (and DH-less) league and his new home ballpark has been exceptionally tough on power hitters this season.
Of course, Smoltz's biggest problem with the Red Sox was giving up eight homers in 40 innings. Well, that and giving up a .386 batting average on balls in play, which is almost comically absurd.
The question isn't if Smoltz can pitch like he used to pitch, or if he can pitch better than he pitched for the Red Sox. The question is if he can pitch better than Wellemeyer and Boggs. And considering his still-impressive stuff and the advantages he's about to enjoy, I believe that he can.
The Cardinals have a big lead in their division already, and they're piling on, and I like that very much.