Is Joe Smith The Most Underrated Reliever This Year?

Joe Smith is not a name many people outside of the Cleveland Indians fan base would know.  Part of the Bullpen Mafia in Cleveland, Smith has had a very successful season for the Tribe.

Smith has appeared in 46 games for the Indians with 43 IP and a 1.26 ERA.  Before surrendering a walk-off homer to Jacoby Ellsbury, Smith’s ERA was a 1.06 and Ellsbury’s solo blast was the only homerun he has allowed this year.  In fact that was only the sixth earned run that Smith has allowed all year.

Smith has had some pretty impressive stretches this year coming out of the pen.  Before entering the game last night against the Boston Red Sox Smith had allowed two earned runs in his last 36 appearances, 34.2 innings including allowing no runs at all in June.  July was a good month for Smith 14.2 IP, 1.23 ERA, six hits, two runs they were earned, zero home runs, five walks, and 15 strikeouts.

With a bullpen whose only name people really know is Chris Perez should Joe Smith be discussed as a quality reliever?

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  • Lewie Pollis

    Smith is definitely undrrated since no one knows who he is, but at the same time he’s somewhat overrated because he’s been getting somewhat lucky. Relievers can absolutely outperform their peripherals and Smith has beaten his luck-neutral numbers for five years straight now. But even by his standards a .248 BABIP and 88% strand rate are red flags, and FIP (2.98), xFIP (3.47), and SIERA (3.01) are about two full runs higher than his his ERA (not saying he’ll fully regress to the alphabet soup stats, but his ERA could easily double through no fault of his own).

    A better choice for an underrated reliever on the Indians might be Vinnie Pestano, who, in addition to being unknown because he’s a non-closer on a small-market team, has been pitching far better than his 3.12 ERA would suggest. He’s striking out just under 13 K/9 and his SIERA is an insane 1.67.