Despite his shaky control in his last outing, going into today’s game against the Houston Astros you probably would still have said that Andrew Oliver was the front runner for the Tigers 5th rotation spot. What a difference a day makes.
That game is still going on as I write this, and though they trail the Tigers may yet come back to win it. For Oliver, though, the day is done and the results don’t look pretty. Oliver was unable to make it through the fourth inning and finished with only 9 outs. 7 runs, 6 earned. 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Not a lot to encourage there – his spring ERA rose to 5.17 and though he struck out more batters than he walked, 2 walks in 3 innings is still unacceptably high.
And now the Tigers rotation vacancy has no favorite. Oliver, after all, was the remaining candidate with the stuff and the ceiling that folks like to see. Below doesn’t have either, nor does Smyly and in his case you’d have to add a complete lack of experience above AA. Below and Oliver both spent 2011 at AAA and saw a little bit of major league action to boot. Below was given a shot against the Yankees on Sunday, and though he wasn’t exactly lights out he did OK – that passed the baton to Oliver for a start against a much weaker Houston team. And next we’ll turn to Smyly, I suppose who thus far hasn’t gotten the starts or the pressure situations that the more favored candidates have.