After three years as one of baseball’s best closers, John Smoltz’s return to Atlanta’s rotation has been brilliant.
Smoltz looks to continue his impressive return to starting as the Braves play the decisive game of their series with the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Smoltz, a six-time All-Star, has won three consecutive starts and is 3-2 with a 1.82 ERA in his last six outings. He opened the season by getting shelled for seven runs over 1 2-3 innings of a 9-0 loss to Florida on April 5, but has been solid ever since.
Despite leaving Thursday’s 9-4 win over Houston after five innings because of back pain, Smoltz insists he’s ready to take the ball Wednesday. He is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in four career starts at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Smoltz, who would have been replaced by left-hander Horacio Ramirez, said ”(skipping his turn) would be strictly selfish”, considering how well he’s pitched of late, allowing just one earned run in four consecutive starts, spanning 25 1-3 innings.
The Braves, who have won eight of their last nine, scored all nine of their runs with two out in Tuesday’s 9-5 win at Colorado, snapping the Rockies’ two-game winning streak.
They’ll face struggling right-hander Byung-Hyung Kim in the series finale.
The former Arizona and Boston reliever will make his first start for the Rockies after issuing 15 walks in 13 innings out of the bullpen. He is 0-3 with two blown saves and an 11.25 ERA in his last eight appearances.
Kim hasn’t started since last May.