The Atlanta Braves are not going to win the World Series because Will Smith cannot be trusted.
The Newnan native was good with the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers before that. However, the 32-year-old southpaw routinely gives up meatballs when Atlanta asks him to close out games. Though he may have 32 saves on the year, he has a 3-6 overall record and a 3.66 ERA in 59 innings over 62 appearances. Smith gives Braves Country heart attacks every ballgame.
Unless the Braves want to lose in the NLDS to the Brewers, they may need to find a solution.
Atlanta Braves: 3 closer options not named Will Smith
LHP Atlanta Braves
Tyler Matzek has pitched well the last two seasons and is left-handed
If Braves manager Brian Snitker is more committed to the idea of his team’s closer being a left-hander than it being Smith, let’s try Tyler Matzek on for size. Though he could go with A.J. Minter as well, Matzek has been the better pitcher over him this season. Matzek has completely revitalized his big-league career in Braves uniform the last two years. He has succeeded in his role.
On the year, Matzek has a 2.95 ERA and 1.236 WHIP in 55 innings over 61 appearances. While he has finished 13 games for the Braves this year, he has never recorded a save in his big-league career. Though closing games could be new territory for him, keep in mind he is a former failed starter after having broken in with the Colorado Rockies back in the 2014 MLB season for them.
Can Matzek be trusted to close out games? Potentially, but we have never seen it before. Atlanta is running out of time to give him reps in those highly stressful situations. Should Atlanta have a lead at any point of their likely NLDS series vs. Milwaukee, not a soul in Braves Country will feel comfortable. Though Smith will blow a save in a heartbeat, he has more experience over Matzek.
Again, this is a tertiary option, but it one that should be considered, given how well he has pitched.