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John Smoltz bemoans mishandling of pitchers’ arms

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz stands in

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz stands in the dugout after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Turner Field on October 2, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Daniel Shirey

Mets fans were not the only ones looking forward to watching a potentially historic staff in action this season; so were fans of baseball in general and the art of pitching in particular.

That includes Fox analyst John Smoltz.

“I hate it; I hate it so much,” the Hall of Fame pitcher said on Monday of the Mets’ injury-riddled rotation during a break in preparation for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. “It’s been my No. 1 pet peeve of the way the game’s going: that nobody seems to pay attention or care enough to stop this epidemic. That’s what I hate.

“These are talented, great young pitchers . . . They’re not the ones to blame. As a fan of the game and as a way that I can enjoy doing my job, I want to see these guys, man. I want to see them pitch for 15, 18 years. I want to see the dynamic stuff that they possess. I feel bad for the way the game is treating these players.

“Yes, they make a lot of money and don’t have to play as long, but man, it just saddens me that we’re dealing with this every single year in some capacity.”

So what is the problem, in Smoltz’s view?

“I think the problem is the philosophy,” he said. “When you get a pitcher, you’re not thinking about a pitcher long term anymore. You’re not thinking about: I want this pitcher to be in my organization the next 13 years. I call it the ‘Band-Aid approach.’ You basically have a pitcher that you want to get the most you can out of, and if he can’t do it, there’s another guy behind you and another guy and another guy.

“When are we going to go back to treating our starters as the most important commodities on our team to where you invest the money and get the most out of them and don’t have to worry about eating up 34 pitchers a team just to get through the season? When are we going to do that?

“When does it become OK to understand the reason that happens is there are so many arms, you can do it. You can get through a season or two with 35 pitchers a year . . . But the injury rate keeps going higher and higher and higher, so we’re underdeveloping and overproducing, and yet the byproduct of it is exactly what we’re talking about.”

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