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Friday, August 28, 2009

John Smoltz Invades St. Louis Tonight: Your Guide to the Start of the Century

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 2:18 PM

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In the end, while it may be trite, what I'm hoping to see tonight really is just a whole lot more of what we got the last time out with Smoltz. What we actually see, though, may give us a pretty solid clue about just how good his chances are to remain a starter as the Cardinals head into the September home stretch. Regardless of how it goes tonight, I expect Smoltz will get at least one more start, largely due to necessity, but how his shoulder holds up to normal rest and a starter's workload tonight will tell us a lot about how strong we should expect him to be. 

We've already seen the man obviously still knows how to pitch, and there didn't appear to be anything wrong with his stuff in San Diego. On the contrary, his pure stuff was damned near lights out. Of course, he was facing a Padres lineup that ranks among the weakest in baseball; the Washington Nationals have a much better collection of hitters and should prove a stouter challenge. Still, the actual pitches Smoltz threw against the Padres would have made anyone look foolish, regardless of team or division. 

Now we just have to see if that stuff will hold up. If he looks like the John Smoltz we saw in San Diego for five innings or so, I say this is the Cardinals' fifth starter the rest of the way. (And fifth starter in name only, to be frank.) If he looks like that guy for about two innings then everything starts to slow down and hang up, we may be looking at the Cards' new setup man after all. 

No matter what happens tonight, though, it's hard not to be a little pumped to see one of my childhood heroes take the mound for my team. You'l forgive me, I hope, if I seem a little giddy. 

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