Red Sox: Carson Smith is ready for a big role in the playoffs

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Carson Smith /

Red Sox reliever Carson Smith has missed almost the entire regular season but he and Boston believe he can be a big part of their playoff success.

The Boston Red Sox are hoping that reliever Carson Smith can be a big impact arm out of the bullpen this postseason. Many pitchers at this time of year are fatigued and overworked. However, with Smith, he hasn’t had a full season of work wearing down his legs and arm. He has had almost a two year absence from the game due to Tommy John surgery and the required rehabilitation.

Currently, Smith is improving as he continues to build up strength. His fastball velocity was about 93-mph since returning from his injury but it was previously about 96-mph. That may seem like a minor difference but to a hitter, it can change an at-bat.

"“I feel pretty good,” Smith told the Boston Herald. “I think my fastball is getting there. Especially with high-leverage situations, the adrenaline kicks in, velocity upticks a bit. I just have to focus on hitting my spots. I think my stuff is there.”"

Before his injury, Smith had posted a 2.31 ERA in 2015 for the Seattle Mariners and was striking out over 11 batters per nine innings. The Red Sox acquired him hoping for similar production. Now, after his injury and recovery, Smith may return to that dominance which would be a huge bonus for Boston in the playoffs.

Right now, despite the lack of velocity, Smith has still made an impact. He’s been relying on his signature slider that is often compared to teammate Chris Sale‘s slider but from the right side. In eight appearance, Smith has thrown 53 sliders and only three have resulted in hits (all base-hits). He also didn’t allow a run until his eighth appearance.

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"“I went out there and executed pitches, and I got outs,” Smith said. “Some in big moments, some when it was a blowout. I was just excited to get out there and prove I deserve to keep getting opportunities and prove I can help this team win.”"

Smith will likely make the postseason roster for the Red Sox but nothing has been finalized. His late-season showing has made a strong case for him to be chosen over other relievers like Brandon Workman, Fernando Abad, and Matt Barnes.

"“I’m obviously excited to be a part of this team,” Smith told Boston Herald reporters. “There was one point throughout the season where I didn’t know if I was going to make a return. To come back and pitch in September and pitch pretty successfully is a good feeling coming off the surgery that took a lot out of me. There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of energy and time spent trying to recover. I was just happy to be back pitching. And to be in the mix for the postseason roster, just to be in consideration, is a really good feeling.”"

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Regardless if Smith makes the postseason roster or not, it is highly encouraging that he has been able to come back this season and show he still has great stuff. His journey through injury and recovery has been long and frustrating but a World Series championship would surely make up for it.