A control specialist who walked just 2.2 men per nine innings for his career, the bearded Smith won ten or more games for the Montreal Expos every year after 1984, including an 18-5 mark in 1985. He was extremely durable, starting 25 or more games annually from ’84 to ’91.
Ignored by all 24 major league clubs in the 1974 free agent draft, Smith signed with the Baltimore Orioles, but was traded along with Rudy May in 1977 to the Expos’ farm system. After almost seven full seasons in the minors, he debuted in the bigs at the age of 26, and on September 21, 1981, earned his first win by retiring one batter in a 1-0, seventeen-inning Expos victory. He joined Montreal’s starting rotation late in 1983, and pitched exclusively as a starter for the remainder of his career.
Smith signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in November 1989, and posted solid seasons in 1990 and ’91, going 21-17 with a 4.02 ERA over the two years. “This is like 300 for me,” he quipped, after notching his 100th career win on August 9, 1991. “I know I’ll never win 200.” He didn’t even reach 110 — he finished his career with just eight more victories.
Arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in April 1992 sidelined Smith for all but 13 games that season. He attempted a comeback with the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993, but was dreadful, allowing 28 earned runs in just 29 1/3 innings.