Despite trading Prince Fielder, the Detroit Tigers are still one of the top teams in all of baseball. The lineup is strong from top to bottom, with a wide range of power and speed. The rotation is top-notch with Justin Verlander at the No. 1 spot and Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer are great No. 2 and 3 options.
Another change for the Tigers is that Doug Fister signed with the Washington Nationals, opening up a spot in the rotation. As a result, Drew Smyly will be filling out the rotation as the fifth starter.
Smyly spent all of 2013 as the set-up man for the Tigers. He pitched very well in that role, striking out 81 batters in 76 innings with a 2.37 ERA. Smyly was a starting pitcher during his rookie season in 2012. As a starter, Smyly finished 4-3 with a 3.79 ERA..
Smyly will still have relief-pitcher eligibility in most fantasy leagues this season. If you play in a league with separate slots for starters and relievers, then Smyly would be a good option to take up one of the RP spots. He would give you starting pitcher numbers as a “relief pitcher” in a time when great relief pitchers are hard to come by. If he struggles, then you dump him and take a risk with a low-end closer or set-up man.
If you draft Smyly as a true starter, then expect average numbers. He won’t blow anyone away with a below 2.50 ERA or an outstanding win-loss record. Realistic expectations are a 10-6 record with a 3.65 ERA and 130 strikeouts. It may take a start or two for Smyly to get used to being a starter again. When he does, though, he will be a great No. 5 fantasy starter.