The Boston Red Sox entered Sunday sporting the American League's best record (33-23).
They are loaded with quality starters - Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Brad Penny.
Now, even more help could be on the way as 42-year old veteran John Smoltz is nearing a return from shoulder surgery. Following his six-inning, 74-pitch outing for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, the 42-year-old is now scheduled to start on Thursday in Syracuse. From there, there’s a chance — and seemingly a strong one at that — that Smoltz could be ready for a return to the majors.
Smoltz threw 51 of 74 pitches for strikes, walked two and struck out three. He topped out at 91 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun and retired the last 10 batters he faced.
The Red Sox believe that Smoltz is now in the phase of his recovery when he is preparing for the specific circumstances of at-bats and outings, rather than simply trying to regain health following his shoulder surgery last June.
“He’s excited and he’s getting closer and closer, you can see it,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’s not rehabbing so much anymore. He’s trying to attack hitters and make pitches and talk about how he gets reaction to his split and things like that, which is good to hear.”
In addition to Smoltz getting close, Boston also has prospect Clay Buchholz tearing it up right now in the minors. He's 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA for Triple-A Pawtucket through nine starts and 55 innings pitched and has allowed just nine earned runs.
All that depth is a good thing and wouldn't make it a surprise to see Boston dangle Brad Penny to get some help on offense, particularly at shortstop where the team has struggled.
Smoltz was an ace before the shoulder and despite his age, he appears to be capable and determined to get back and be a factor. It would not be a bit surprising to see him make an impact.
Fantasy Baseball, MLB