Will Smith Has Made the Ninth Inning the Easiest One for Bruce Bochy

SAN FRANCISCO -- You could pick any statistic, traditional or advanced, and it would show that Will Smith deserves to be in the All-Star Game next month. But perhaps his greatest attribute is one that can't fully be measured. 

The closer has made sure that Bruce Bochy, in his final season, no longer has to go through that infamous "torture" for those final three outs. 

Smith is a perfect 21-for-21 when handed a save opportunity, but it goes beyond just the 100 percent success rate. Nearly every time out, Smith has gotten those final three outs without even a hint of drama. It usually hasn't been that way for Bochy, even when he has had All-Star closers in the past. 

"It's been pretty nice, you know," he said, smiling. "I've dealt with (Brian) Wilson, who did a great job, but he made it scary sometimes. (Sergio) Romo could make it a little scary, or (Santiago) Casilla, especially, could keep you on the edge of your seat. 

"But Will -- knock on wood, I don't want to jinx him -- I'd say 90 percent of them have been really, really quiet ones. That's a good thing for a manager."

In 13 of his 21 save opportunities, Smith has retired the side in order. Six other times, he allowed one runner to reach base. Smith has faced five batters once and six batters once, and only twice has he allowed a run while holding on for the save. 

The outlier came earlier this month when Smith entered a game against the Padres with a two-run lead and got two quick outs before a single, double and walk loaded the bases. But Smith got Manny Margot to pop up, ending the game. That was one of just five save opportunities in which Smith has thrown more than 16 pitches. 

More often than not, it's a breeze, and that has added up to a remarkable first half. Smith ranks eighth among NL relievers with a 1.95 ERA and is first in OPS allowed (.474). He's averaging a career-high 13.64 strikeouts per nine innings, good for seventh in the NL, and he is third in saves despite pitching for a losing team. The 21 consecutive saves to start the year are the most by a Giant since Rod Beck nailed down 28 straight in 1994. 

Smith has made it look easy in the first half. It will be an even easier call to put him in the All-Star Game for the first time. 

"It'd be great to see Smitty there," Bochy said. "What a year he's had. Nothing would make me happier."

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