When in 2015 Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski traded Wade Miley and minor league pitcher, Jonathan Aro, to the Mariners for reliever, Carson Smith. It was a huge move with much potential to a bullpen that was in need of an 8th inning arm.
However, early on in the 2016 season, while pitching in a spring training game, Smith had to come out early due to what was described at the time as “forearm tightness”. Little was thought of it at the time and he began the season on the DL making his Red Sox debut in May while the team was on the road in Chicago.
Smith pitched a complete inning, but he wasn’t available to pitch in many games after that debut and couple weeks later it was announced that Smith, had torn his UCL which would require season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Fast forward 16 months and Carson Smith not only returned from a long rehab which included multiple starts and stops but has now pitched his way into consideration for a postseason spot in the bullpen. Since his return, he’s pitched in 4.1 innings allowing just 3 hits walking 2 and striking out 5. So far he’s passed every test that was faced including pitching in back to back games in the previous Orioles series.
Smith has a nasty not quite sidearm, not quite 3/4 delivery which is reminiscent of former Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees reliver, Jeff Nelson who was a mainstay in the Yankees bullpen during their dominance. Like Nelson, Smith’s ability to get groundballs is a BIG incentive for him to be in the bullpen for the playoffs.
Like last year when Brad Ziegler was acquired to be a groundball pitcher for the Red Sox, Smith is in the same position, albeit in a possible postseason game.
Here are videos of both Nelson, and Smith.
Jeff Nelson slow-mo delivery
Carson Smith pitching (sorry for the Mariners video)