It might have felt like Mac Williamson stole the strikeout spotlight with his Platinum Sombrero Thursday in the Giants' 5-4 loss to the Braves in 13 innings, but really, Will Smith was the King of Ks in a far better way.
Smith set a Giants record with his strikeout of Braves utility man Charlie Culberson in the ninth inning.
The record came to an end with two straight groundouts to complete the top of the ninth.
Smith has been one of the Giants' best trade acquisitions in recent years. The Giants received the left-handed reliever from the Brewers in August 2016 for former top prospects Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac. Since arriving in San Francisco, Smith has a 2.67 ERA in exactly 100 appearances out of the bullpen.
The other side of the trade has seen Bickford, a right-handed pitcher the Giants selected with the No. 18 pick in 2015 MLB Draft, fall off the map. Since the trade, Bickford has been suspended for multiple failed drug tests, converted to a reliever, and mysteriously hasn't pitched once this season.
Susac was designated for assignment by the Brewers and traded from the Orioles to the Royals. The catcher is currently hitting .243 in Triple-A.
But now, Smith has pitched his way into one of the Giants' most valuable trade assets before the July 31 trade deadline. San Francisco (21-28) is in the cellar of the NL West and are sure to be sellers this summer. While Madison Bumgarner rumors create the most headlines, Smith could be just as valuable to a contender.
Smith becomes a free agent after this offseason. He is 1-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. Despite the Giants' record, Smith's 12 saves are tied for the fifth-most in baseball.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi should be selling Smith with a high price tag right now. The Giants just saw firsthand how to pull off a great rebuild like the Braves. Adding high-upside prospects via trades will be a big step in the right direction.