Thanks to Mets minor league coach Phil Regan, Mets LHP Josh Smoker has traded a bit of velocity for a lot more command, Kevin Kernan explains in a report for the NY Post.
Smoker, who is expected to compete for a spot in this year's bullpen, now features a 95-98 mph fastball instead of consistently hitting 100 mph as he did earlier in his career.
"In the past, I've always been kind of a wild child as far as where the ball was going," Smoker told Kernan. "Now I can spot my fastball."
He had averaged nine walks per nine innings pitched during his final three seasons with Baltimore's farm system. Under Regan, Frank Viola, and Dan Warthen, he's cut that rate by more than half (3.7).
"Phil is the greatest," Smoker told Kernan. "He smoothed out my delivery and made some minor tweaks and it made all the difference in my command."
Mar 10, 2016; Port St. Lucie: Smoker (49) throws against the Cardinals at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
In 36 matchups, right-handed batters hit .200 against Smoker in 2016. However, in 29 plate appearances, lefties hit .360.
"Obviously being a lefty, I need to have a little bit better numbers," Smoker told SNY's Mets Hot Stove earlier this winter. "I think to do that, I need to improve my slider a little bit."
In total, he made 20 appearances in relief for the Mets, faced 65 batters, had a 4.70 ERA (4.26 FIP) and struck out 25 batters in 15.1 innings.