By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have a revamped bullpen heading into the 2016 season, and new acquisition Carson Smith is a big part of it. Expected to be the setup man for new closer Craig Kimbrel, the 6-foot-6 Smith boasts a low-to-mid-90s fastball and plus slider that is an effective “out pitch” against both lefties and righties.
However, what really makes Smith unique is his delivery, which lies somewhere between sidearm and three-quarters with a deceptive release point. Smith appears to be in mid-windup when he abruptly uncorks the ball, making it hard for batters to track or time his pitches. This video shows how he does it:
Speaking to WBZ’s Jonny Miller at Red Sox Spring Training, Smith said his delivery has always been somewhat unorthodox but has evolved over time.
“It’s just developed over the years. I’ve always thrown from different arm slots dating back to when I was 11 years old,” said Smith. “I’ve always thrown a little funky … I molded into one in my sophomore year in college and kind of just ran with it, and I’m still using it today.”
Any sidearm delivery, let alone Smith’s jerky motion, tends to raise health concerns, but Smith has not suffered anything serious yet. Smith told the Seattle Times last year in Mariners spring training that it’s been discussed with him, but not led to any kind of overhaul.
“They haven’t tried to change me when it comes to my mechanics,” said Smith. “They’ve made little tweaks here and there, but they’ve let me be who I am.”
Smith has kept his walks low while increasing his strikeout rate in his season-plus in the major leagues, which bodes well for his development at the highest level. Expect plenty of strikeouts and dumbfounded batters when Smith takes the mound.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.