Joe Smith began 2016 with the Angels before coming over to the Cubs in a 2016 trade deadline deal and is currently a free agent. The righty, who uses an unorthodox submarine motion, posted a 3.46 ERA in 54 total appearances combined for both teams he pitched for. After a rough start to 2016, Smith's numbers improved once he got to Chicago, as his ERA, K/9 and WHIP all saw improvements. Smith is already a pitcher who relies more on control and a vast repertoire of pitches than velocity, as the right hander's average fastball velocity was 88.39 mph. That provides reason to believe his approach on the mound should not drastically change as he gets deeper into his 30's. However, considering Smith has always relied on getting ground balls, one cause for concern could be his diminishing groundball rate, which dipped from 59.1 percent in 2014 to 52.1. percent in 2015 to 50.3 percent in 2015. This doesn't bode overly well given his new hitter-friendly home park in Toronto.
Smith will not be available out of the Blue Jays' bullpen Saturday, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports. After pitching in back-to-back games, Smith will get the night off. Those in daily transaction leagues that count holds will want to proceed accordingly. Smith has three strikeouts in three innings so far this season.
Smith pitched one inning, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out one in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. Smith's spring debut didn't go well, as he surrendered a pair of doubles and a hard-hit single before getting out of the frame. The 11-year-veteran's numbers have been headed in the wrong direction in recent seasons, but he's still expected to make the team's Opening Day roster as a middle reliever. With the Jays' bullpen being strong on the back end, Smith will be limited to low-leverage situations.
Smith reached an agreement Sunday with the Blue Jays on a one-year contract, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. With a 3.46 ERA and 40:18 K:BB ratio over 52 innings with the Angels and Cubs last season, Smith's numbers took a dramatic step back compared to previous years, forcing the 33-year-old to settle for a short-term contract. Though the Blue Jays lack much high-end talent in their bullpen, Smith will still likely have to settle for low-leverage middle relief duties with his new team, as Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini profile as the top setup men for closer Roberto Osuna.
Smith (hamstring) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Cubs have not outlined a clear plan for Smith's rehab but it would seem he has a chance to return when eligible, which just happens to be Sept. 1 when rosters expand. Smith allowed three home runs in his first six appearances with the Cubs (spanning 3.2 innings), but he will likely play a prominent role down the stretch as part of the bridge to closer Aroldis Chapman.
Smith was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a left hamstring strain, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Smith threw 16 pitches in Tuesday's win over the Brewers but came away with a tweaked hamstring. A subsequent evaluation revealed the strain, and the right-hander will now be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks. The Cubs are yet to announce a corresponding move, but they may simply opt to keep Trevor Cahill, who came up to serve as the 26th man for Tuesday's doubleheader, on the major league roster for now.
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