Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
The Buffalo Bisons had, when big leaguer Joe Smith was rehabbing with them, four players named Smith on the team, outfielder Dwight Smith Jr, and pitchers Joe, Murphy and, the subject of this season review, Chris Smith. Chris finally made his major league debut in 2017 after having been brought into the club in September of 2016 but not getting into any games.
Smith, whom I interviewed in New Hampshire in 2016, got his start in professional baseball by working his way into affiliated baseball through the independent leagues, pitching on the fringes for three years before being signed to a minor league deal with New York. Smith was released by New York in 2015 and the Jays signed the hard-throwing righty who then put up stunning numbers in 2015 and 2016 in the higher levels of the Blue Jays’ minor leagues.
In 2017, Smith made one appearance with Buffalo before an injury took him out of action for just over a month. He rehabbed with Dunedin, striking out two in one inning of work before rejoining the Buffalo Bisons. With Buffalo, he posted a 4.41 ERA over 13 games from mid-May to the end of June, but, though he walked only two batters in 16 1/3 innings, he was hit fairly hard, giving up three home runs and an .804 OPS in that span.
Smith was called up to Toronto and made his big league debut on June 27, pitching a scoreless innings and giving up just one hit. He was sent back to Buffalo where he allowed three runs in four innings (over five appearances). He returned to Toronto on July 23, throwing two scoreless outings before giving up three runs on four hits (including a home run) on July 28.
Smith was optioned to Buffalo at the end of July and was recalled after three outings although he didn’t pitch again in Toronto. He was designated for assignment on August 12 and, after clearing waivers, he was sent back to Buffalo where he finished the season and became a free agent.
Overall, in Buffalo, Smith’s numbers didn’t stand out. He had a 4.46 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 34 1/3 innings with six walks and 24 strikeouts. In Toronto, he pitched five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Saunders became a free agent following the season and signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals.
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: Incomplete
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