The 5th starter carousel has already begun. After a brief appearance in the major leagues for one start, Tigers top pitching prospect Jacob Turner is going back down to Toledo, while the blistered and healed Drew Smyly returns to Detroit.
Smyly didn’t exactly come out of nowhere to steal a spot on the Tigers roster to start the year, but he was at the very least a dark horse when spring began. Smyly showed that the Tigers faith in him was well warranted to start the year, not allowing more than 2 earned runs in his first six starts. Since then however, it has been a different story.
The last six times that Drew Smyly has been on the mound, he has failed to record a quality start. His 1.59 ERA has risen all the way up to 3.96. The home run has been his biggest Achilles’ heel of late. In his first six starts, Smyly had only allowed three long balls, whereas in his most recent six starts, he has given up seven homers. Pitching Tuesday against the Rangers in Texas probably isn’t going to help those recent struggles with the long ball.
Smyly does have one start against the Rangers this season, however in Detroit, and it went well. Against Texas the first time, Smyly went six innings, struck out seven batters, and only gave up one earned on a solo homer. Since this will be the second time that Texas is seeing Smyly, things should be more difficult against a talented and veteran lineup. Smyly has only been seen twice by the same club once this season, and that was the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox put up similar numbers to the Rangers the first time they saw them, but were much better in the second meeting. The Sox scored four runs in five innings the second time compared to two runs in six innings the first.
The last six starts for Smyly have been very pedestrian. It could be a function of teams getting to see more video of Smyly, or it could be in part due to his blister problems. Whatever the reason, with Jacob Turner looking pretty good against the Cardinals on Thursday, the leash for Drew Smyly probably isn’t going to be a long one if he struggles for a couple starts.
Personally, given that it was Texas and they haven’t seen Turner this season, I would’ve let Turner face them on Tuesday. I understand the reasoning though. It wasn’t as if Turner was lights out by any means in his start against the Cardinals. He did walk five batters, and was a little lucky more than anything, but he did a good job of limiting damage when he needed to. I thought it had earned him another start though, especially given Smyly’s last six outings.
Let’s hope Smyly comes back strong.