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Another dominant 1st half for Will Smith

July 1, 2015

You don’t hear a lot about Will Smith, and that’s a good thing.

Last time the Milwaukee Brewers reliever made headlines, he had been ejected May 21 in Atlanta for using a foreign substance. Since finding himself in the middle of that controversy, the lefty has fallen back off the radar.

Like many unheralded positions in sports, you typically can tell how well relief pitchers are doing by how little you hear about them. Smith, in his relative obscurity, has been dominant once again in the first half of this season.

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Over his last 17 games, which dates back to that same Braves series, Smith has tossed 162/3 scoreless innings, striking out 21 batters while allowing just 10 hits and five walks. Though three of his seven inherited runners have scored over the same stretch, opponents have hit just .172/.238/.190 against him.

Smith has recorded multiple strikeouts on seven occasions during his scoreless streak, including a three-strikeout inning on May 23, his first appearance following the ejection.

For the season, Smith has not allowed a run 33 times in 36 appearances. He’s given up four earned runs on 18 hits over 291/3 innings for a 1.23 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 11 walks. His ERA leads all Brewers pitchers with five or more appearances this season, and his 4-0 mark also is the team’s best.

Smith was similarly strong last season through the end of June, before the heavy workload started to take its toll. He has been used slightly less in 2015, having pitched in 36 games compared with 44 at this time a year ago.

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Over the final three months of 2014, Smith had a 7.27 ERA, giving up 21 earned runs on 28 hits in 26 innings. His struggles over those 34 appearances derailed what began as an all-star caliber season for the lefty.

In the first three months of the last two seasons, Smith has pitched in 80 games, tossing 69 innings and giving up just 10 earned runs for a 1.30 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP. He’s also recorded 88 strikeouts against 28 walks, while allowing just nine of 39 inherited runners to score.

How Smith will fare over the final three-plus months this season remains to be seen. But he’s proven his first three months in Milwaukee were no fluke.

Can he sustain it over the course of an entire season?

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