Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Smoker Needs to Go

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has a lot of upside with all the young power arms in it.  However, Josh Smoker does not represent one of those options.

During Spring Training, the Pittsburgh Pirates main bullpen battle was for who the lefty specialist would be.  The competition was mainly between current Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Josh Smoker and sort of Triple-A pitcher Kevin Siegrist. The reason he is sort of is because he has refused to report to Triple-A Indy.

Many felt that Siegrist was the higher upside option out of Spring and probably should have won the job.  However, he was brought in on a minor league contract, allowing him to be optioned to the minors.  Meanwhile, Smoker was out of options and would have had to go through the waiver wire.  So roster wise it made more sense to try to use Smoker out of Spring.  Also, Siegrist is coming off an injury prone season, and the Pittsburgh Pirates hoped for him to continue and build his arm strength back up in the minors rather than the majors.

Spring Stats

When comparing their Spring Training stats, Smoker actually did better than Siegrist.  Smoker threw 11.1 innings and had a 3.97 ERA.  In addition to those numbers, he struck out 14 while walking four, but did give up three home runs.  Meanwhile Siegrist only threw 5.2 innings, partly because he was added during Spring Training.  His ERA was up at 7.94 in 5.2 innings pitched.  He gave up a total of five runs.  However, four of the runs he gave up came in one outing, so his numbers were very inflated.

2018 Season

Needless to say, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to keep Josh Smoker for the regular season.  While he did not give up any earned runs until last night, Smoker’s peripheral numbers have been ugly.  First off, he has given up a lot of inherited runners.  This is mainly because he has give up nine hits in five innings pitched this year.  Also, his walks per nine innings is sitting over four.  While it is earlier, in 56 innings last year his BB/9ip was over five.  Also, he has yet to produce a swing and miss strike out this season.  Furthermore, he has give up a lot of fly balls, and is only getting a 26 percent ground ball rate.

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All in all, Smoker has been very ineffective looking.  He is not over powering hitters and is not producing ground ball outs.  Meanwhile, he is allowing far too many base runners, and based on his career, he will likely continue to struggle with control.  There was a reason the New York Mets allowed Smoker to be exposed to waivers.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have already seen Smoker cost them many games, and last night saw him get blasted for four earned runs.  His ineffectiveness should lead him to be put on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.