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.