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Community Projection: John Smoltz

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How old is John Smoltz? He'll be 41 on May 15th, but age hasn't stopped him from posting 200+ innings and around 200 strikeouts a year for the past three years since returning to the starting rotation. It seems that there has been no starting pitcher more consistent than Smoltz over that time.

Every year the projection machines have Smoltz getting run down due to age, but every year he goes out and proves the projections wrong. Will 2008 be the year that age finally catches up with Smoltz or will he be rejuvenated by not being the oldest member of the pitching staff thanks to the addition of Tom Glavine.

Smoltz missed a couple of starts last year, but he still went to the post 32 times and racked up 205.2 innings. Cox was a bit more careful with him last year, not letting him go so deep into games and giving him a rest at the first hint of an injury. That still produced an ERA in the top-5 in the NL and enough strikeout to rank third in the NL.

So it seems the only real question with John Smoltz is when will age catch up with him. It doesn't seem to have affected him the last three years as he surged to become the first pitcher in the history of baseball with 200 wins and 150 saves in a career. It sure seems like he could pitch until he reaches 250/150, and with the Braves solid offense and more stable bullpen, many of those close games he likely should have won in his first two years back in the rotation he may finally start winning.

Here is my typically rose-colored optimistic prediction of Smoltz' stats in 2008:

17-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 215 IP with 204 SO.

Obviously I don't think he'll regress just yet, and maybe luck will finally get him that extra win or two. I don't know if that line is Cy Young worthy, but it's top-5 in the NL (like he's been the last three years).