Detroit Tigers Roundtable: On Nelson Cruz, the Leadoff Spot, and Magical Upgrades

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May 2, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello (21) throws a pitch against the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s going to have a better year in the rotation: Drew Smyly or Rick Porcello?

Chris Hannum: Porky. The last piece of the puzzle for him is a defense capable of turning tough double plays – I think we have that now and I’m expecting Porcello’s 2014 era will match his 2013 xFIP and SIERA. I expect an ERA about 4.00 from Smyly.

Matt Pelc: The Tigers are going all-in with Drew Smyly as was seen with the Doug Fister trade. I’m hoping he lives up to the expectations. He was solid in the bullpen last year, but had only a little bit of experience starting in 2012. All that said, I think Smyly will have the better year, though I am hoping and expecting Porcello’s ERA to drop a bit.

Matt Snyder: Smyly had the sexy bullpen ERA last year, but it’s much more difficult when you’re asked to turn over a lineup two or three times in an outing. I think Smyly will be good, but I’m going to say that Porcello wins the ERA battle at 3.8-something. It should be really close though.

Scott Byrne: I like Porcello this year. He really seemed to learn how to pitch last season, gained some velocity and scrapped the slider, and if it weren’t for two hideous starts vs. the Angels his numbers would have been eye-popping. He also stands to benefit greatly from improved infield play behind him. Smyly is a bulldog, but the transition back
to starter will have rough patches. Also, he seemed to tire by the end last year and that was when called on for short stints. Stamina could be an issue for Drew.

Michael Emmerich: From start to finish Porcello will give the Tigers more value, although Smyly will probably have more dominant stretches.

Josie Parnell: I think this is Smyly’s year to shine and become the formidable opponent he’s shown glimpses of being. He has something to prove(the same can be said about Porcello, but it’s hardly the first time he’s had something to prove and it’s yet to really work out for him). Smyly has shown he has the mind, heart, and cajones to take a challenge and opportunity such as this and run with it.

Tom Zahari: Both of these guys will have solid seasons this year that would probably equal the 3 guy for many rotations in baseball, but I think Porcello has a bit of an edge. The book is out on Smyly now and I think some hitters will adjust to his stuff this season, where everyone has known what Porcello is bringing to the mound for a few years now. Porcello’s ERA has improved every season since his second year in the league and his WHIP was down .25 points last season. Porcello could be entering the prime of his career this season and I expect him to take another step forward.

Josh Paulisin: I’ll go with Rick Porcello. I really like Drew Smyly and I’m excited to see him in the rotation for a full year. The fact that he’s a lefty is huge as it’s been a long time since the Tigers had a left handed starter out there every fifth day. But no one will benefit more from the improved infield defense than Porcello. I see him having a career year.

Blair Tatrault: Tough call. Hopefully both are on the ascent. I think Smyly’s going to have a little more trouble than we think against lineups stacked with righties and Porcello made progress against lefties last year, so I give the edge to Porcello.

Grant Stoye: I think Porcello will have a better year. Think about how good he was, as a rookie, in 2009 with an infield of Cabrera, Polanco, Everett, and Inge. I think this year’s infield is better than that one (Cabrera – leaner, more agile, although Castellanos has more to prove defensively).

Sam O’Toole: Rick Porcello. His numbers across the board have improved year-by-year, so he should be able to step into Doug Fister’s old spot in the rotation.  Drew Smyly is coming to the rotation from the bullpen where he was excellent for the Tigers in 2013.  He has starting experience in the majors, but it is a transition from bullpen to the rotation.  I see Porcello emerging into the “Big 4” in the rotation that was talked about last year.

Summary: Porcello (9), Smyly (2)