Smoltz’s 200th win set a new standard for pitchers

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

It was a rare day in baseball, where a standard was reached that had never before been met.

But for John Smoltz, his 200th career victory on May 24, 2007, didn’t just make him the first pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves. It came against his former teammate and longtime friend, Tom Glavine.

And that might have been the most nerve-wracking thing of all for the future Hall of Famer.

“I downplayed it for as long as I possibly could,” Smoltz told the Associated Press. “I tried not to think about it in any different fashion, but it was a different game.”

Smoltz threw seven shutout innings that day at Atlanta’s Turner Field, leading his Braves to a 2-1 win over Glavine and the Mets. Having just turned 40 a little more than a week earlier and in his last season as a regular member of a big league rotation, Smoltz improved to 7-2 with the victory.

At the time, he was the 109th pitcher to reach the 200-win milestone. But none of the other 108 before him had also been an All-Star closer. As the Braves’ bullpen ace from 2001-04, Smoltz saved 154 games before rejoining the Braves’ rotation in 2005.

Smoltz called the feeling of capturing his 200th win “euphoria” and compared it to the emotion of pitching in a postseason game.

“The first time I came out of the bullpen the crowd went nuts,” Smoltz said. “It felt like that again.”

Smoltz would finish the 2007 season with a record of 14-8 and a 3.11 earned-run average, earning a sixth-place finish in the National League Cy Young Award voting. But injuries erased most of his 2008 season, and after short stints with the Red Sox and Cardinals in 2009, Smoltz called it a career.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015 after posting a career record of 213-155, 154 saves, a 3.33 ERA and 3,084 strikeouts. In 41 postseason appearances, Smoltz was 15-4 with four saves and a 2.67 ERA in 209 innings, the equivalent of one full extra season.

“He’s beyond a Hall of Famer,” Braves catcher Brian McCann told the Associated Press following Smoltz’s 200th win. “It was awesome. It’s amazing to catch someone like that.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series