By: David Rouben
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, Fla. – After enduring a rough breakup with the Oakland Athletics, Murphy Smith has thrived with the Toronto Blue Jays since joining them in 2015.
At 29, Smith acknowledged that he may be a late bloomer. But joining the Blue Jays’ organization has seen him go through a career resurgence.
“It was nice to be back in the Northeast [where] I grew up,” Smith said about pitching in his home state of New Hampshire. “It was great to see a lot of family and friends.”
In 2016, Smith had a 1.50 earned-run average, 1.06 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), and struck out 68 batters over 72 innings. He went 4-5 with five saves.
A season like that isn’t just the byproduct of returning home. “I would say it was just a culmination of learning who I am as a pitcher.”
The Blue Jays have certainly played a big role in accelerating his learning curve.
While Smith will always be grateful for his time with the Athletics, his last season with them in 2014 was tumultuous. After coming off his best season as a starter, he was converted to a reliever in training camp. He was given a few spot starts but said that made it hard for him to find his rhythm.
While he had a 2.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP out of the bullpen, he had an 8.46 ERA and 1.81 WHIP as a starter.
The Athletics released him.
But Smith came to the Blue Jays with three seasons of experience at Double-A. Not only does Smith know you’re a phone call away from the Major Leagues at that level, he also said the biggest difference between the two is consistency rather than ability.
With a defined role out of the bullpen, Smith is emerging as one of the Blue Jays’ most promising relief prospects. If he can keep up this level of consistency, a call-up to the big leagues in 2017 isn’t out of the question.