In a season where the Astros bullpen has been nothing short of terrific, the one minor hole in it was the lack of a left-handed reliever. That’s now been filled:
MLB source: @astros trading Jake Odorizzi to the Braves for lefty reliever Will Smith.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 2, 2022
33-year-old Will Smith will be joining the club he helped defeat in last year’s World Series. The veteran southpaw has a 4.38 ERA (97 ERA+) across 37 innings in 2022, including 5 saves. He is a free agent after the season. (EDIT: Smith has a $13 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout.)
After collecting a career-high 37 saves in 2021, Smith had been receiving less high-leverage work in Atlanta this year, which was partially, if not largely due to marked regression in key areas — his strikeout rate is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year and he’s walking batters at a career-high clip as well. That said, his numbers against left-handed hitters remain solid.
During the Braves’ 2021 postseason run, Smith did not allow a run in 11 innings, and owns a career 1.47 ERA in 18 1⁄3 playoff innings.
The night after his best start in an Astros uniform, Jake Odorizzi will now be pitching for a new team. A late addition in spring training 2021, Odorizzi was ostensibly signed as a result of Framber Valdez’s injury, one that initially threatened Valdez’s season, though it ultimately did not.
Odorizzi seemed to never quite find his footing in 2021 after an All-Star campaign in 2019, but did manage to register a decent 4.04 ERA in his 164 2⁄3 innings as a member of the Astros. He currently has a 3.75 ERA (104 ERA+) across 60 innings in 2022.
Quality depth in the Astros starting rotation likely enabled the front office to take from it in order to address another area of need.
Smith hasn’t been as effective as he had been in the past, but his peripherals do indicate that he’s pitched better than his 4.38 ERA would suggest.