Smyly to continue to pitch out of 'pen

Veteran lefty could make spot start as Braves go through Sept. stretch

September 5th, 2021

DENVER -- Braves manager Brian Snitker said prior to the club's game against the Rockies at Coors Field on Saturday that left-hander will continue to pitch out of the bullpen, at least for now.

Smyly has struggled of late, and after an abbreviated season last year in which he only threw 26 1/3 innings for the Giants, his 2021 workload so far may be at least partly responsible for his recent dip in velocity.

"He'll pitch out of the bullpen the next couple days," Snitker said. "... There's probably a situation that may open up next week that we'd slide him into [as a starter]."

Smyly gave up four homers and five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Dodgers last Monday. Following a rough start to the season, Smyly settled in and posted a 3.08 ERA in a 10-start stretch from June 2 to July 29. In five August starts, his ERA was 6.08.

Injuries have inadvertently helped the cause, but the Braves have done a good job overall of managing their starters' workloads this season, something that every team has had to be mindful of following the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

The ageless Charlie Morton, who is slated to start Sunday's series finale in Colorado, has thrown the most innings so far among Atlanta starters this year, with 151. Max Fried has thrown 130 2/3, Smyly has thrown 115 2/3, Saturday's starter Ian Anderson has thrown 101 2/3 and Huascar Ynoa has thrown 67 2/3 innings.

"I think we're doing a good job of giving guys the extra day and putting somebody in [for a spot start]," Snitker said. "It's kind of worked out good -- I don't think anybody's getting beat up at all. We just keep them spread out and consequently, they've all been really effective."

That will undoubtedly be key now that the September stretch run has arrived with the Braves trying to clinch their fourth consecutive NL East title.