PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — MLB Network analyst and eight-time National League All-Star pitcher John Smoltz joined The Fan Morning Show on Thursday to offer his thoughts on the Pirates and Major League Baseball at-large.

He likes the depth and pitching that the Bucs have this year, and while he thinks they would be wise to get a little deeper, he notes that they “keep finding ways” to win despite the holes that they have, and they seem determined to make this season different than their last two.

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“History is what it is, and they don’t want to be a part of it anymore,” Smoltz said.

He thinks that this is a year in which teams have to take advantage of the schedule and grab wins from bad teams, given how tight the playoff races have been.

Smoltz explained that he’s bothered by having universal pitch limits for young stud pitchers like the Bucs’ Gerrit Cole.

“You can’t fit everybody in the same box,” Smoltz said. “So, not everybody could adhere to the same, let’s just say, innings pitched limit. It drives me crazy.”

He thinks that up-and-coming star pitchers can avoid getting hurt if they maintain a consistent approach- which should be what got them to the majors in the first place.

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“When you can repeat your mechanics, I don’ t think you’re at risk of any theory that’s out there right now that says, ‘Uh oh, they’re getting too close to this magic number of innings,’” Smoltz said. “So, I think you just watch it, and you use your eyes, and you use your ability to understand what these guys are going through.”

He disagrees with the notion that teams need to be very careful with their young star pitchers in large part due to the fact that they won’t adjust to a major league workload without being held to the fire a bit first.

“The one thing that burdens me a little bit is that the development of these pitchers… is just going to take a while, because you don’t know how to get through a season,” Smoltz said. “I know everyone’s trying to figure out, ‘Oh, how do we stop the injuries?’ or ‘How do we protect our investment?’ It’s just a little puzzling to me.”

He does think the Pirates could benefit from lightening their bullpen’s workload.

“Their bullpen’s great,” Smoltz said. “They’ve got to limit the bullpen innings a little bit. That’s what people don’t talk about. I laugh a bit when everybody talks about the innings limits of a pitcher- you never hear anything of the bullpen.”

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The interview can be heard here: