As Spring Training moves closer to opening day, the race for the Detroit Tigers‘ fifth and final starting spot is becoming a little clearer. It’s been a close competition between Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly, but there can only be one winner.
So far this spring Porcello has a 2.50 ERA only giving up five runs in 18 innings of work giving him the slight edge over Smyly. Porcello could still be traded before opening day, but with every passing day it becomes less and less likely leaving Smyly with no place in the rotation.
As a result, you could see Smyly in the bullpen used in long relief where a pitcher gets hurt or possibly gets touched up by the opposing team. With such a young pitcher, this is risky because you have to worry about his development. He won’t have a whole lot of opportunities to pitch which could prevent him from improving and becoming a better pitcher.
The other option of course is to send him back down to the minors where he can pitch every fifth day and work on his stuff. This might be the best idea if he doesn’t get the final rotation spot even though I would love to see him on the big league roster.
I think that it’s only a matter of time before Smyly gets a spot in the back end of the Tigers rotation, so it might be better in the long run for him to play at least the beginning of 2013 in the minors. I still would love to see him in the rotation, but that might not be what happens. If not, then I don’t think long relief is the best thing for Smyly.