The Los Angeles Angels this past offseason filled a major hole in their bullpen by signing reliever Joe Smith to a three-year, $15 million contract.
So far Smith does not appear to be living up to expectations as he has given up seven runs with three of them earned, allowed 11 hits, and has walked five batters in 9.2 innings pitched. These numbers don’t sound like a player who is ready to come in and be a solid addition to the bullpen as a possible heir apparent to Scott Downs, who excelled in the role as a setup man for the Halos before being traded at last season’s trade deadline to the Atlanta Braves.
But despite giving up 11 runs this Spring Training, he has pitched six scoreless outings that include five out of the last six appearances with a strike out of the side against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last game. This warrants no reason for concern about Smith, as he is a seven-year veteran and is just getting used to his new surroundings as he has played the last five seasons for the Cleveland Indians.
Once the regular season begins on Monday, expect the 30-year-old lefty to pick up his level of play that saw him post a sub-3.00 ERA for the last three consecutive years. As part of the Angels revamped bullpen this season, Smith will play a major factor as being the bridge to closer Ernesto Frieri, who appears to be focused on rebounding from a career-worst 3.80 ERA in 2013 as he is having an impressive spring training with no runs allowed in 9.0 innings pitched.
There should not be any level of concern for Smith as he will be the one of the Halos’ most reliable pitchers out of the bullpen, if not the most dependable.