The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Smoltz (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery that could put his career in jeopardy. No further details were given, but this is a big blow to Smoltz's fantasy owners that took him in the earlier rounds of their drafts.
Smoltz was dominant as a starter in five efforts with a 3-2 record, a 2.00 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 27 innings. However, earlier in the season he began feeling increased soreness and pain in his shoulder before he was finally shut down after an April 27 start. He attempted to come back as a reliever hoping to put less strain on his right shoulder. He returned Monday, June 2, for one inning, giving up two runs on three hits in a blown save. However, he woke up the next day with increased pain in his shoulder. The Braves have scheduled a news conference to discuss Smoltz's future.
Smoltz, who is owned in virtually all competitive leagues, can be dropped when the team confirms he's out for the season. The Braves likely will turn to relief pitcher Rafael Soriano to resume his role as the closer. Soriano started the season in the ninth-inning role, so he may not be available to pick up. If he is, grab him immediately in all formats.
Soriano is a bit fragile, and he's coming off elbow tendonitis that forced him to miss most of the early part of the season. Therefore you should keep mending former closer Mike Gonzalez (elbow) on your radar. Gonzalez, who saved 24 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006, came over in a trade from the Pirates last season and was close to stealing the closer gig before he was injured in early 2007. He is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and went on a rehab assignment May 27; he could be days away from returning. Gonzalez would be a great player to stash on your disabled list if you're desperate for saves.
About Ryan Dodson
Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.
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