However Arrieta is used, Smoltz said it isn’t easy to switch from pitching every fifth day to having to be ready to enter a game in an unknown situation at a moment’s notice.
“It’s not as easy as people think,” he said. “I don’t think every starter in the history of the game could just transition into being a reliever just because they had good stuff.”
...“Whether you have your stuff or not, you’ve got to believe you do [when you come out of the bullpen],” Smoltz said. “You’re not given much freedom to make mistakes. As a starter, you can not have your stuff and recoup it in the fourth inning and your team can bail you out.
“Everyone just assumes that coming out of the bullpen, everyone’s going to have their best stuff, because they don’t have to throw as much. It’s not always the case. So you have to almost fake it sometimes and get through it.”
...Or, as Smoltz said, pitching in relief when your team is already losing can present a good time for a pitcher to take some risks and work without the same pressure as starting or coming in to protect a lead. (Arrieta has yet to work out of the pen, so his role hasn’t been completely defined, but he’d obviously be more suited to long relief.)
“In this case it just sounds like he’s in a pretty good funk, and this is going to help get him out of the funk by depressurizing,” Smoltz said.