Burch Smith has bounced around six teams thus far through his MLB career, but it appears he has found a home with the A's.
The 30-year-old right-handed reliever has been has been practically unhittable coming out of Oakland's bullpen this season, and he had his most impressive performance yet in Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers.
Smith came on in relief of starter Sean Manaea, who ran into trouble in the fourth and departed with runners on first and third after allowing three runs in the inning. Smith got Scott Heineman to pop out to second and Shin-Soo Choo to flyout to left to get back in the dugout without further damage.
He was just getting started, though. Smith would go on to retire all 10 batters he faced -- on 33 pitches -- stifling the Rangers' offense and allowing the A's to get back into the game.
"Burch Smith did a fantastic job for us today," A's manager Bob Melvin said following the win. "At times, you gotta pick somebody up and Birch picked Sean up tonight."
"I don't know what it looked like before, but since we saw him in summer camp to this point, it has been the same stuff," Melvin added. "Gives you multiple innings, got up four times today, had to come in and rescue an inning -- that's a lot for a reliever. But didn't lose his velocity, didn't lose his effectiveness. I wasn't sure we were gonna get that far with him but we did, so his confidence just has to keep growing. For a guy that has missed some time, obviously, because of injuries, he has done a terrific job for us."
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Including Wednesday's performance, opposing hitters are just 3-for-25 against Smith this season with one walk and six strikeouts. Afterwards, multiple teammates used the same word to describe his pitch arsenal.
"Nasty," Manaea said of Smith. "He has come in each time and shut the door. I didn't really get to see him during spring training, so the first time I saw him, I thought it was just absolutely disgusting stuff."
"Burch is nasty," catcher Austin Allen explained. "He has got that fastball that -- it just spins. It has got that spin rate, what everybody talks about now, and he can throw his curveball and changeup at any point, too. He's definitely one of those guys that's coming out of the bullpen and he's going to attack hitters, and like you saw tonight, he has got the stuff to succeed."
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Smith is off to the best start of his career, but it's not like he's the only reliever dominating right now. After Wednesday's win, the A's bullpen has posted a 1.90 ERA across 52 innings this season.
"It's pretty easy," Allen said of catching the various relievers. "Whoever comes in, we're just attacking hitters and they're going after them with their one-two punch. Shoutout to those guys, and every pitcher that we have. They've been keeping us in games when the offense hasn't really been clicking and stuff, so they've been doing a great job."
The A's got Smith in a trade with the San Francisco Giants back in February in exchange for cash considerations. Safe to say, that has been money well spent.