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Base Ball Players

John Smoltz

John Andrew Smoltz (born May 15, 1967 in Detroit, Michigan) is a Major League Baseball player. He is predominantly known as a starter and former Cy Young Award winner; however, late in his career, in 2001 he became a closer, a role he is no longer serving. In 2002 he became only the second pitcher in history to have both a season with 20 wins and a season with 50 saves (the other being Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley). Smoltz is also one of only two pitchers with 150 wins and 150 saves (the other again being Eckersley). Smoltz throws a four-seam fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 MPH, a slider that has long been considered one of the best in the league, and a 90 MPH split-finger fastball that he uses as a strikeout pitch. He also mixes in a curveball and change-up on occasion, particularly since he has returned to the rotation.
Smoltz's revived career as a starter began inauspiciously. He allowed six earned runs in only 1 2/3 innings--matching the shortest starts of his career--as the Braves were blown out on Opening Day by the Florida Marlins. Because of poor run support, Smoltz would lose his next two decisions despite pitching well. After these initial difficulties, things would fall into place. At the All-Star break, Smoltz was 9-5 with an ERA of 2.68, better than his career average. As a result, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa selected Smoltz as a member of the 2005 NL All-Star team. Smoltz gave up a solo home run to Miguel Tejada in the second inning of the American League's 7-5 victory and received the loss. He is 1-2 in All-Star games, putting him in a tie for the most losses.
Smoltz finished the 2005 season 14-7 with a 3.06 ERA with 169 strikeouts while allowing only 210 hits in 229 2/3 innings. Before the season began, many questioned whether Smoltz would be able to reach the 200 inning plateau in his return to the rotation. While the number of innings he logged during the season was impressive, it caused him to wear down towards the end of the season.
Still, even with a sore shoulder, Smoltz, revered in baseball circles as one of the game's fiercest competitors, soldiered on, and pitched a gem in the Braves' 7-1 win over the Houston Astros in Game Two of the 2005 NLDS, the only game the Braves would manage to win in the series against the eventual National League champions.
In 2006, Smoltz continued his re-emergence as one of the elite starting pitchers in the game. Although Smoltz still features an fastball clocked at up to 95-96 MPH and one of the game's best sliders, he has utilized a curveball more so than in years past. Smoltz finished the season with a record of 16-9, an earned run average of 3.49, and 211 strikeouts. He was tied for the National League lead in wins, and finished a close third-best in strikeouts. His record would have been even better if not for six blown saves by the much-maligned Braves bullpen.

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