If you think that Will Smith had a huge season last year, you haven’t seen anything yet. After leading the National League in appearances in 2014, Smith told Todd Rosiak, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that he is “wants 80 this year.” With his goals set sky-high for 2015, Smith will undoubtedly become the best lefty reliever in all of baseball .
Last season, Smith was an complete necessity. Although he had only appeared in 35 major league games before the trade, Smith proved to be durable throughout the season. Without him the bullpen would have been an absolute disaster.
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Though he struggled throughout July and August, Smith was untouchable to start the year. In his first 28 appearances of the year, he gave up just one run and struck out 33 batters. These great starting numbers allowed him to finish the year as one of the most counted on relievers on the roster.
When facing left handed batters Smith was a neutralizer. While many times he was used for more than one batter, he proved that he had what it takes to get out a big left handed bat when needed. Throughout the year, lefties hit just .167 against him and he struck out 47 left handed batters in 106 plate appearances.
His end of season numbers prove just how important he was for the team. He not only was able to lead the league in appearances, but he was also able to average nearly 12 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched. He finished the year with a 3.70 ERA, but his FIP of 3.25 is a much more realistic number to show how strong he was all year long.
This season I again have high expectations for Smith. Even though they have arms like Jonathan Broxton and Jeremy Jeffress at the back-end of the bullpen, Smith will still be counted on for quality innings and I fully expect him to come through. With one of the best sliders in baseball, Smith will again help the Brewers to keep left handed opponents at bay.
It is always great to see players set high and reachable goals. While 80 games is a lot, Smith certainly could get in done in 2014. Last season, he proved that he can carry a heavy workload and this season he will continue to be a counted on arm.
Many lefties with the success of Smith only face a batter or two in each outing, but Smith can do it all. With his sights set higher than ever, he will become one of the top left handed options in all of baseball in 2015.