When Joe Smith debuted for the Mets in 2007, the 23 year-old didn’t look a day over 14. Regardless of looks, Smith pitched decently, posting a 3.45 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and 2.14 K/BB. While the young righty was surrendering too many hits (9.7 Hits/9) and free passes (4.3 BB/9), he was also striking out batters at a 9.1 K/9 clip and his .349 BABIP suggested some of those hits were bad luck. The following season, Smith trimmed-down his hits allowed (from 9.7 to 7.2 Hits/9), and was notoriously successful in bases-loaded jams (.000/.083/.000 line against in 12 PA’s). At age 24, the now bullpen mainstay pitched to the tune of a 3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 1.68 K/BB.
His success didn’t arrive out of thin air, however. Smith exhibited dominance the year before at Single-A, owning a microscopic 0.45 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and 9.33 K/BB in 20 innings. The reliever struggled a bit when he was promoted to Double-A, hurling a 5.68 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, and 1.09 K/BB in 12.6 innings–particularly having trouble finding the plate (7.8 BB/9)–but before getting the call to the show in 2007, Smith pitched 9 solid innings at Triple-A (2.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 1.25 K/BB). Joe Smith didn’t quite have “closer stuff” in the Major Leagues, but he was emerging as a good, young reliever in the middle of the Mets bullpen. And that’s probably what attracted him to the Cleveland Indians. Continue reading