Will Smith has not been among the best or most efficient relievers in baseball for the past three seasons. But that only applies to regular-season baseball as Smith has been more than great in October in consecutive appearances since the 2020 campaign as a member of the Braves. That fact, despite his regular-season struggles, makes Smith so valuable for the Astros.
As a matter of fact, the 33-year-old lefty has two more saves (6) than any other pitcher in the postseason since 2020 – now teammate Ryan Pressly has four. In addition, Smith has four wins and two holds over that span in the playoffs. Overall, since 2020, he’s pitched 17 innings, allowed seven hits and three earned runs, with six walks and 15 strikeouts. He’s been good enough for a .382 opponent OPS.
I’ve always said that postseason baseball gets the best or the worst from you, depending on the kind of player you are. It seems that when it comes to Smith, it gets the best from the veteran southpaw.
For you to have a reference, the Astros have had 27 appearances from their lefty relievers in October since 2020 –those left-handers are Brooks Raley, Framber Valdez, and Blake Taylor— and they’ve combined for a good 3.08 ERA across 26 1/3 innings pitched (nine earned runs).
If you think that’s great, let me tell you something else about Smith, the new lefty weapon in Houston bullpen. Smith is carrying the longest active streak of scoreless appearances in the postseason, with 11. That streak began its course on October 9, 2021.
Beginning that date, he’s hurled 11 innings with five hits allowed (all singles), three walks, and eight punchouts. His opponents have posted a .139/.205/.139 slash line with a .344 OPS off him over the that span, in which he’s faced the Brewers, Dodgers, and the Astros in the 2021 World Series.
In his first 10 innings as an Astro, Smith has been better than he was with the Braves at preventing runs and giving fewer walks. His ERA is down (4.38) almost by a run (3.60) and his BB/9 ratio has notably improved from 5.1 to 1.8. Despite not being as effective in 2022 as he’s been in the past, those two stats have to be encouraging for the Astros’ environment heading into the postseason. Watching Smith pitch on an Astros’ uniform in October? Gonna be fun!