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Switch Smoltz to the 'pen? There's no decision to make

There has been a lot of debate on whether John Smoltz should be left in the rotation as the fourth starter or moved to the bullpen when the playoffs start in just a few days.

While the recent performance of the back of the bullpen is certainly a concern, and Smoltz spent several years as one of the best closers in baseball, that doesn't mean he can automatically make the switch back from pitching every fifth day to possibly several days in a row.

It is my understanding that Smoltz's recent missed start from shoulder tendonitis is all we need to know about why the 42-year-old pitcher is still in the rotation.

Smoltz has had quite a few problems with his shoulder, dating back to his days in Atlanta. And the reason that he switched from the bullpen back to the starting rotation wasn't only because he missed being a starter.

blog post photo

Cardinals pitcher John Smoltz may stick to the rotation because his shoulder won't let him pitch on short rest. AP photo.

He was becoming a hypodermic pin cushion from all the cortisone shots he had to get to keep his balky shoulder loose.

Smoltz has been pitching for 20 years and he simply can't do it every day anymore. While he might have been able to get by as an eighth inning guy if he didn't pitch too much, he's not a guy that you can anoint the closer and count on whenever you need him.

That said, is a battle tested big game pitcher who could win a pivotal game in a seven game series if you need him to. But it would almost certainly be a desperation move if the Cardinals put Smoltz in the bullpen.