This afternoon, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly made his fourth start of the still-young season and turned in an adequate performance in today’s 6-2 loss against the Houston Astros. Prior to running into trouble and giving up three runs in the fifth inning, there were actually very few blemishes on the soon-to-be 25-year-old lefty’s record today.
Although Smyly received the loss, he finished the game with a decent line of five hits, three earned runs, three walks and two strikeouts through 5.1 innings pitched. Smyly certainly did not have his best outing of the season today, but he is still 2-2 with a 2.96 ERA on the year. There is also plenty of reason to believe that he will still put together one of the finest seasons the Tigers have seen from a left-handed starter in quite a while.
Since Kenny Rogers went 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA for the Tigers in 2006, the team has not had a truly dependable left-handed arm in the starting rotation for an entire season. Rogers, along with Nate Robertson, his teammate and fellow left-handed starter, started falling apart during the 2007 campaign. The Tigers also traded Mike Maroth to the St. Louis Cardinals halfway through 2007, and Dontrelle Willis went 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA for the Tigers from 2008-10.
Furthermore, Tigers prospect Andy Oliver never panned out, Phil Coke went just 1-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 14 starts back in 2011 and Jose Alvarez made six starts for the Tigers last season and went 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA.
Therefore, it is easy to see how Smyly will still be a significant improvement over the left-handed starters that the Tigers have endured in recent memory, and his mediocre outing today is certainly nothing to worry about.
Smyly was in fact in the starting rotation for a good portion of the 2012 season, and he gave the Tigers a nice sneak preview of what he is capable of doing back then. He went 4-3 with a 3.79 ERA in 18 starts before being moved to the bullpen, where he spent all of 2013 due to the Tigers’ crowded rotation.
Although there are still some who might suggest that Smyly should have stayed in the bullpen, as he found a great deal of success in that role last season, look for him to continue to go out and prove that he is indeed where he belongs. By the time the leaves turn brown, look for Smyly to have the best numbers the Tigers have seen from a left-handed starter since Rogers wore the Old English D.