Joe Smith
Joe Smith
34-Year-Old PitcherRP
Houston Astros
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Smith showed signs of improvement during the second half of 2016 following a midseason trade to the Cubs, pushing his strikeout rate to a then career-high 9.4 K/9 and providing the Cubs with a 2.51 ERA over 16 appearances. After reaching free agency last winter, he signed with the Blue Jays, only to be traded to the Indians in July. In most circumstances, he'll be a chair or two away from save opportunities, and that was the case for Smith once he joined the Cleveland bullpen, but he showed additional improvement in his ability to miss bats (career-high 11.8 K/9) while cutting his walk rate nearly in half from the previous season (1.7 BB/9). Most notably, Smith did not walk a single batter in his 21 appearances for the Indians after the trade deadline while showing more of a groundball tilt (60 percent GB%). He'll likely return to a setup role after signing with the Astros in December. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a two-year contract with the Astros in December of 2017.
Added to ALCS roster
PHouston Astros
October 12, 2018
Smith is on the Astros' ALCS roster against Boston, Brian McTaggart of reports.
Smith wasn't on the club's 25-man roster for the ALDS versus Cleveland but will provide a fresh relief arm for Houston in this best-of-seven series. Across 56 appearances this year, he logged a 3.74 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with a 9.1 K/9.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .222 223 59 21 44 5 1 9
Since 2016vs Right .232 388 98 19 83 12 0 10
2018vs Left .191 53 15 5 9 1 1 2
2018vs Right .214 127 31 7 25 4 0 5
2017vs Left .246 77 24 8 17 3 0 2
2017vs Right .220 137 47 2 29 6 0 2
2016vs Left .220 93 20 8 18 1 0 5
2016vs Right .266 124 20 10 29 2 0 3
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2016Home 3.76 1.11 76.2 7 3 2 9.2 2.6 1.4
Since 2016Away 3.24 1.09 74.0 3 3 5 9.5 2.2 0.8
2018Home 4.18 1.27 23.2 3 1 0 8.0 2.7 1.9
2018Away 3.27 0.73 22.0 2 0 0 10.2 2.0 0.8
2017Home 4.28 1.13 27.1 3 0 0 12.8 2.3 1.0
2017Away 2.36 0.94 26.2 0 0 1 10.8 1.0 0.3
2016Home 2.81 0.94 25.2 1 2 2 6.3 2.8 1.4
2016Away 4.10 1.56 26.1 1 3 4 7.5 3.4 1.4
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Stat Review
How does Joe Smith compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
87.8 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Smith began 2016 with the Angels before coming over to the Cubs in a 2016 trade deadline deal and is currently a free agent. The righty, who uses an unorthodox submarine motion, posted a 3.46 ERA in 54 total appearances combined for both teams he pitched for. After a rough start to 2016, Smith's numbers improved once he got to Chicago, as his ERA, K/9 and WHIP all saw improvements. Smith is already a pitcher who relies more on control and a vast repertoire of pitches than velocity, as the right hander's average fastball velocity was 88.39 mph. That provides reason to believe his approach on the mound should not drastically change as he gets deeper into his 30's. However, considering Smith has always relied on getting ground balls, one cause for concern could be his diminishing groundball rate, which dipped from 59.1 percent in 2014 to 52.1. percent in 2015 to 50.3 percent in 2015. This doesn't bode overly well given his new hitter-friendly home park in Toronto.
Smith turned in the best season of his career with the Angels in 2014, but regressed in almost every significant statistical category last season. While it probably wasn't realistic to expect Smith to tally an 8.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 for a second straight year, we also saw his groundball rate drop to the second-lowest mark of his career (52%) while his line drive rate soared to over 23 percent. Smith has shown himself to be capable as a closer when given an opportunity, but notched just five saves while filling in for Huston Street at various points throughout the year. Smith missed time in September with an ankle injury, but returned in October to save two games in Street's absence after Street was shut down due to a groin injury. The 31-year-old is unlikely to see much time as a closer next season barring injury, but can provide value outside of the ninth inning, as he finished 2014 third in the league in holds (32).
Smith was brought in on a three-year, $15.75 deal in November of 2013 to be the Angels' setup man, but was called on to be the closer when Ernesto Frieri struggled and was later traded to the Pirates in June. Smith thrived in the role, recording 15 saves, including 10 in a row, but was relegated back to his post in the eighth inning when Huston Street was acquired from the Padres in July. Regardless of his role, Smith's first season as a member of the Halos was a resounding success, as he had what may have been his best campaign in the major leagues, notching career-best marks in ERA (1.81), walk rate (5.3%) and innings pitched (74.2). The walk rate may be unsustainable, as his career mark is 9.2%, but Smith has now logged an ERA below 3.00 in four consecutive seasons, and should continue to be effective in the late innings in 2015.
Smith cobbled together another fine season out of the Cleveland bullpen, but still has enough wobble in his command to take that next step forward. He handles lefties well enough to avoid many matchup issues, but a moderate strikeout rate keeps him from putting up dominant numbers. The Angels saw enough potential value in Smith to give him a three-year deal in November, and he's expected to serve as part of the bridge to their closer in a late-inning role.
Smith enjoyed another fine season out of the Cleveland bullpen in a late-inning role thanks to some continued success against left-handed batters (.585 OPS in 111 plate appearances). He's still got enough wobble with his command and strikeout rate to avoid moving up a notch among setup men, and would seem to be behind Vinnie Pestano in the pecking order for saves if something were to happen to Chris Perez. Despite the seemingly lack of upside for save opportunities, Smith should continue to post solid numbers in a relief role for Cleveland.
Smith was effective despite a low (6.04 K/9IP) strikeout rate as he finally found a way to get left-handed batters out on a consistent basis, limiting them to a meager .460 OPS in 90 plate appearances. He'll team up with Vinnie Pestano to give the Indians a pair of right-handed options to set up closer Chris Perez, but he's nowhere near the top of the list in terms of replacing Perez in the event of injury or ineffectiveness.
Smith got off to a slow start last season thanks to a knee injury but got back on track, posting a 3.83 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP in 53 appearances out of the Cleveland bullpen. He eats up righties, but has enough trouble against lefties (.925 OPS in his career) to limit his usage and value. He'll be back in a non-closing role for the Indians again this year.
Smith got off to a late start thanks to an illness in spring training and a shoulder injury in May, but posted his second straight serviceable season upon returning. Lefties continue to give him enough problems (.320/.424/.484 for his career) to dismiss any real talk of taking over the closer duties if Kerry Wood is dealt, but he chewed up righties again (.217/.307/.330 career, .198/.271/.344 last year) to give the Indians a nice late-inning match-up chip. His struggles against lefties will keep him from taking the next step up however.
Smith got off to a strong start, then faded in the middle, possibly due to being overworked, but closed with a flourish. His 94 mph sinking fastball and hard slider was the death of many right-handed batters, limiting them to a .192 BA, but his changeup - which he developed to neutralize lefties - was subpar last season, as southpaws hit .320 against him. Smith was traded to the Indians as part of a three-team deal with Seattle that landed the Mets J.J. Putz. In Cleveland, he'll likely will be a set-up man for new closer Kerry Wood.
Smith blazed through spring training, utilizing his 94 mph sinking fastball and hard slider to retire right-handed batters and changeup - which drops off the table - to neutralize lefties and broke camp with the team. Smith dominated the first two months of the year, throwing 17 scoreless appearances at one stretch, before overuse took some of the bite off his slider and hitters learned to lay off it to get ahead in the count. Smith also saw the velocity off his fastball dip dramatically while his pitches stayed up in the zone, two more true signs of fatigue. A week off without pitching after his demotion to the minors helped, but he then went through a bout of bicep tendinitis and was hit after being called back to the majors. The Mets expect Smith to earn a spot in their bullpen, but it wouldn't be surprising if he opened 2008 at Triple-A New Orleans.
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Thriving since return
PHouston Astros
September 10, 2018
Smith pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Red Sox.
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Throws second straight scoreless
PHouston Astros
July 8, 2018
Smith allowed a hit and struck out two over a scoreless inning in Saturday's 12-6 win over the White Sox.
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Returns from disabled list
PHouston Astros
July 3, 2018
Smith (elbow) was reinstated from the 10-day DL on Tuesday, Brian McTaggart of reports.
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Set to be activated
PHouston Astros
July 2, 2018
Smith (elbow) fired a scoreless inning of relief for Double-A Corpus Christi on Sunday and will rejoin the Astros for a series beginning Tuesday against the Rangers, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
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Begins rehab stint Friday
PHouston Astros
June 30, 2018
Smith (elbow) allowed three hits and struck out one in a scoreless inning for Double-A Corpus Christi on Friday.
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