Red Sox Trade For Reliever Carson Smith To Bolster Already Strong Bullpen

General manager Dave Dombrowski continued improving the Boston Red Sox when he dealt Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners to further strengthen the back-end of the bullpen. Ian York looks at reliever Carson Smith and what he adds to the Red Sox staff.

The Boston Red Sox traded Wade Miley and Jonathon Aro to the Seattle Mariners, for Carson Smith and Roenis Elias on Tuesday. Aro and Elias are mainly filler in this trade, with the centerpieces being Miley and Smith.

Smith was an effective reliever for the Mariners in 2015, appearing in 70 games and finishing with a WHIP of 1.014, FIP of 2.12, and an ERA+ of 164. While he had a handful of relatively shaky games in July, he finished strong, allowing no runs in his final 16 games:

Carsen Smith IMG 1

Smith throws a sinker, slider, and an occasional changeup, with the slider preferentially thrown to right-handed batters and the change almost entirely to lefties. His sinker and slider both have fair to good velocity and plenty of movement, especially vertically:

Carsen Smith IMG 2

More importantly, Smith locates his pitches well, mainly avoiding the center of the plate, and targeting the bottom and outside edge of the strike zone:

 Carsen Smith IMG 3

Relievers are notoriously volatile, and Smith has only pitched one full season not enough to have demonstrated consistency. While he has only thrown in 79 games in the majors, his 70 appearances in 2015 mean there is some concern about overwork, especially since his velocity decreased somewhat toward the end of the season, after gradually increasing over the first half of the season:

Carsen Smith IMG 4Nevertheless, Smith is a very strong addition to the Red Sox bullpen, which now seems deep enough that (barring injury or unexpected ineffectiveness) Smith should not need to appear as often. While Wade Miley more than earned his salary with the Red Sox in 2015 and shows every sign of being a solid mid-rotation pitcher for years to come, this seems to be a trade where both sides can benefit.

Ian York uses the information from PITCHf/x to monitor the strike zone, highlights great performances, and monitors league-wide trends. He also tracks the performances of some interesting young hitters.

Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork.

Check out Rick Rowand’s breakdown of the trade.

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