Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz.
Along with manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone, they turned the Atlanta Braves franchise around in the 1990′s and won 14 consecutive division titles until that streak was snapped in 2006. They are three of the seven oldest players in Major League Baseball. Two, Maddux and Glavine are sure Hall of Famers based on having won 300+ games–usually the litmus test for Hall membership. Smoltz is a likely Hall member with 210 wins and 154 saves that he racked up as the Braves closer from 2001-2004.
This season, Maddux, 42 and in his 23rd season in the National League, is still chugging along for the Padres. He’s 3-4, 3.91, with a 1.27 WHIP. Maddux notched his 350th career win against the Rockies on May 10.
Glavine doesn’t seem to have the endurance he once had. In seven starts back with the Braves after spending the past five seasons with the Mets, he is just 1-1, 4.41, but is averaging less than five innings per outing. Glavine picked up his first win on May 14 against the Phillies.
Smoltz is another story. Although he has been the most effective of the three veterans (3-2; 2.00; 1.11 WHIP), he hasn’t pitched since April 27 against the Mets. That’s when he went on the DL with an inflamed rotator cuff and biceps tendon.
Maddux, in his second season with the Padres is unsigned for next year. Given the state of pitching these days, however, I would think Maddux will find a home next year whether that’s with San Diego or somewhere else.
Same with Glavine. The left-hander has not spoken of retirement to this point, and while his endurance is clearly down, he’s still effective enough to hold down a starting rotation job somewhere. “If I’m healthy and pitching good, there’s a possibility I’ll be back,” said Glavine.
Smoltz is a different story. While effective, he is clearly hurting. Smoltz may begin a rehab assignment this week and he’s placed himself back in the bullpen for the remainder of the season. “I love pitching. I love the competition,” said Smoltz, “I don’t enjoy the pain any more.”
Sounds to me like a pitcher who is not coming back next season. While he will likely be the one racking up saves for the Braves once his rehab is over, that doesn’t sound like a guy who is going to help you next season. So, if you are in a keeper league, I’d try to trade him to a contender if you fall behind this season. Of course, you’re better off waiting until he returns to extract maximum value.
Referring to his colleagues, Maddux and Glavine, Smoltz said: “we’ve all taken different paths, but we’ve done it the right way.”
No doubt about that.