It’s still too early in the 2012 season to say definitively that the Tigers may have found themselves a 5th starter, but the early returns so far are encouraging. After getting through 4 innings in his first start, mostly battling his command, Smyly got through 6 innings on Tuesday night giving up just one unearned run. On the season, the Tigers rookie left-hander has given up just one earned run 10 innings of baseball for an ERA of 0.90.
The biggest improvement was in Smyly’s command, walking just one batter in his second outing compared to three in his first. Obviously, nerves were a factor in the first game, as evidenced by his first inning struggles, but since then Smyly has shown poise beyond someone who had just one year of minor league baseball under his belt.
Smyly, who isn’t known for his raw stuff, flashed a mid 90’s fastball on occasion against the Royals on Tuesday night, working both sides of the plate while keeping the Royals offense off balance. He did allow 7 hits, and there is no doubt going to be some games where he gets hit around a bit. His next opponent, the Texas Rangers, are going to be a huge test for him. Right now though, Tigers fans and the front office couldn’t ask for anything better.
It’s been quite some time since the Tigers have been comfortable with their 5th starter, certainly last season wasn’t a lot of fun with Brad Penny getting hit around regularly. But as fans, we should be cautious of too much praise to quickly. We have seen some rookies get off to good starts before. Sometimes it just takes the league a little bit of time to catch up, and sometimes its just the teams that Smyly might be facing.
Either way, in the first 11 games of the season, it’s one of Detroit’s feel good stories going so far.
Let’s just hope it continues…..