After serving as the closer of the Atlanta Braves during a World Series championship run, Will Smith is thriving in a new role for the team.
One of the first people Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos called before making the move for Kenley Jansen was Will Smith.
He didn’t want there to be any animosity or hurt feelings with AA essentially replacing a World Series closer in Will Smith for Jansen.
Will Smith’s response — I just want another parade.
Of course, it would be understandable if his pride were hurt a little, but that certainly has not affected his performance on the field.
Braves — Will Smith Shining in New Role
The former closer is now into a role that always seemed to suit him best as a setup man.
While still a very small sample size this year with just 7 games played, Will Smith has allowed just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 earned runs in 7.1 innings with 5 strikeouts.
Both of the runs given up were solo home runs, which has been a problem for him since joining Atlanta.
But you look at the metrics, and he’s in the 88th percentile for average exit velocity against, 83rd percentile in HardHit%, and 88th percentile in chase rate.
He’s not getting hit hard and he’s getting a lot of weak contact on balls outside of the zone.
The velocity is down a little on all of his pitches — 92.8 MPH on the fastball to 91.6 MPH, and 82.2 MPH on the slider to 80.9 MPH — but that hasn’t seemed to hurt his effectiveness.
Again, small sample size, but he’s throwing his slider a little more often this year, and batters are hitting just .091 against that pitch with a 46.2% whiff rate.
Brian Snitker has done a great job of using Smith in more low-leverage situations, facing the bottom of the order in the seventh or eighth innings.
This appears to be a great spot for Smith to thrive, and it’s great to see that he’s taken to his new role and responded positively.