Smyly fifth starter, Marte last reliever

Drew Smyly and Luis Marte came to Spring Training as rookies in their first pro camp on the fringe of the conversation for a roster competition. They’ll be leaving it with Major League jobs.

The Tigers finalized their pitching staff Sunday morning by optioning right-hander Brayan Villarreal and left-hander Duane Below to Triple-A Toledo. They told Smyly he has won the open spot in the rotation, though he’ll make a start for Triple-A Toledo before he makes his Major League debut April 12 against the Rays at Comerica Park.

They also told Marte he has won the last spot in Detroit’s bullpen.

It’ll be the first time for both on the Opening Day roster. While Marte had a short stint in Detroit’s bullpen last summer, it’ll be the first Major League time of any sort for Smyly, who went from an intriguing left-hander in camp in just his second pro season to the most consistent starting candidate they had in the race.

Smyly was speechless in the Tigers clubhouse after the news. He said he’d be better able to describe the feeling later, but the look on his face said plenty. At one point, catcher Gerald Laird jokingly told him to stop smiling.

Marte said he immediately called his mom and everybody in his house back in his hometown of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. He said he was “a little bit nervous” as the roster cuts unfolded over the course of camp, but took confidence in the fact that he pitched well.

The Tigers have one more roster move to make before Wednesday’s 25-man roster deadline. They’ll have to make another roster decision after that to make room for Smyly in time for his April 12 start.

9 Comments

Glad to say the Tigers reward performance among pitchers. Now, about those position players…

I suppose that’s in keeping with JL always saying he’ll take talent over anything. I hope they’re not rushing things. But again, Drew is just getting the first opportunity, that’s all.

I love when an open competition is actually treated as an open competition. Smyly was the only one of the five to not self-destruct through the course of spring training. I really believe that the pressure of the competition was a good indicator how he’ll perform with the Tigers. Looking forward to being in house for his debut on the 12th.

I like Marte but im a little sad to see Villarreal go down to Toledo, i guess he will have his chance during the regular season, with Smyly in the fifth spot these have to be one of the younger rotation in MLB if not the youngest.

Detroit #Tigers Rotation: Justin Verlander (Age:29) Doug Fister (Age:28) Max Scherzer (Age:27) Rick Porcello (Age:23) Drew Smyly (Age:22)

No surprise with Smyly.
Marte or Villareal was almost on a coin throw. Both have good numbers
Now the Bartleby novel could go until april the 14th( or beyond)

*shakes head* finally a winner! I’m happy for Smyly – wat a good story!?

Last Tiger rookie lefty to win at least 10 and pitch more than 162 innings…Les Cain in 1970. 12 Wins at age 22. won 10 more games his entire career. did get a cup of coffee during 1968.

From the SABR Baseball Biography Project: “Cain’s career came to an abrupt end in 1972. After nursing the shoulder injury in his previous two years, he got off to a horrible start, losing his first three starts of the season. Then in his fifth start of the season, on May 28, Cain walked the first batter he faced, the Yankees’ Horace Clarke, and then was forced to leave the game because of shoulder pain. He went on the 21-day disabled list, and it turned out to be the end of Cain’s major-league baseball career.”

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