March 22, 2013; Viera, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the spring training game at Space Coast Stadium. Detroit defeated Washington 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Porcello Wins Fifth Starter Spot, Drew Smyly to Pitch in Relief For Tigers

According to Matthew B. Mowery of the Oakland Press (and many others), the Detroit Tigers have answered a few of their remaining roster questions.

Rick Porcello in the rotation seemed like a no-brainer to me all along, but I was completely unsure with what they’d do with Drew Smyly. Keeping him in the bullpen is probably the best move for bullpen quality and stability, but I don’t think it’s the best move for his future development and starting pitching depth.

If he can stay stretched out well enough to make a spot start or move into the rotation as an injury replacement, then half of that equation is no big deal, but I would have liked to see him pitch a season’s worth of innings as a starter in the minor leagues (he’s never thrown as many as 130 innings in a season) and learn what that feels like. But this entire offseason the goal has been to win a World Series, and it’s tough for me to argue that Smyly in the bullpen (as opposed to the minor leagues) isn’t the team’s best option in that respect.

The other announcement, that Matt Tuiasosopo has made the club in a “for now” sense, isn’t a surprise based on what’s happened in the last two weeks. It looks like he’ll get a shot to platoon in left field with Andy Dirks.

I only see two questions remaining: will Bruce Rondon make the team, and who will be the final bench player?

It looks to me like Rondon will make the team – though I haven’t seen that announced anywhere – but if he’s deemed to be not ready, then the door will be open for either Luis Marte or Darin Downs to slide into the bullpen mix.

Don Kelly appears to be the leading candidate for the final bench spot.

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Tags: Detroit Tigers Drew Smyly Matt Tuiasosopo Rick Porcello Spring Training

  • John Verburg

    I think Smyly in the pen is a terrible move. How often does a long reliever actually affect a game? Especially on a staff where five guys legitimately have enough stamina to go 6 just about every time out?

    Plus. Is Drew Smyly so much better than say a Luis Marte or Darin Downs would be in that role at this point, that it’s worth having him in that role as opposed to continuing his development as a starter? I don’t think so.

    • Matt Snyder

      I think he’d have to be more than a long reliever. He’s good enough that you could use him as a high-leverage LOOGY or give him a sixth or seventh inning on occasion.

      You’re right, he would need to be more than a long man to make this make sense.

      • John Verburg

        Even if he did do some higher leverage work, it still doesn’t make sense. The Tigers are taking a guy out of a role he is comfortable with and making the assumption that he is going to pitch better than guys that are already in that role and comfortable. Has Darin Downs done anything to show he can’t do the job? Am I missing something here? Same with Luis Marte.

        It just doesn’t make sense to me to move a young promising starter, who needs innings, off of a starting role when they don’t have to. He should be refining things as a starter in the minors, and when called upon he is ready to go.

        • Matt Snyder

          I think Smyly is Downs, except he can also pitch in long relief and pitch to right handers.

          • chrisHannum

            As a long man he would be better prepared to make spot starts, but he wouldn’t have much impact on the record. He would be a better reliever than Coke or Downs, but I don’t think that they will want to have him throwing ten pitches on back to back days. Smyly had mentioned before that he wanted to make the team, even as a reliever, rather than go to Toledo. They take the job of managing players expectations and aspirations seriously, so that could be a factor.

  • Tony Fischer

    I think Porcello is poised to have a breakout season. Although Smyly is in the pen he won’t be there for long. All of our pitchers (with the exception of JV) are prone to stints on the DL. Also expect him to get in into games early if one of the boys gets roughed up. Anyway it is a good problem to have.

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