Results tagged ‘ Drew Smyly ’

Tigers-Royals postponed, Sanchez pushed to Friday

As expected, the cold, rainy forecast across Michigan this afternoon led to an early postponement of today’s Tigers-Royals finale at Comerica Park. The game will be made up with a 1:08 contest on Thursday, June 19, tacked onto the end of the Royals’ next trip into town. It was an off day for both teams, and neither would be playing 21 days in a row.

As for the Tigers rotation, Anibal Sanchez — who hasn’t faced Major League hitters in a game setting since March 12 — has been bumped to Friday’s series opener against the Orioles. Rick Porcello moves back to Saturday, while Justin Verlander stays on turn Sunday. That means Drew Smyly’s spot will be skipped, which makes sense given Brad Ausmus’ previous statements on watching Smyly’s innings. With three off-days in an eight-day span starting next week, the Tigers could go without a fifth starter until April 19 and pitch Smyly in relief until then if they wanted.

Doug Fister out, Drew Smyly in for Saturday

Turns out the Tigers didn’t need to wait until the last minute to decide on Doug Fister. He has been officially scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Angels. Drew Smyly will start in his place.

Fister continues to be bothered by a right adductor strain in his groin. It will mark the third time this season that injuries have forced him to miss time.

The fact that the Tigers will wait until Friday night to make a roster move suggests they’re not expecting to have to put Fister on the disabled list. Feasibly, they could use next Monday’s off-day to move everybody up and push back the next spot until next Saturday. Practically, though, it would only make a day’s difference.

“We will obviously have to make a move at some point to get Smyly on the club so he can pitch Saturday,” Leyland said.

Updates on Doug Fister, Drew Smyly

Nothing new on Doug Fister’s status for Saturday’s game against the Angels, but at least we have a good idea who will start in his place if he can’t go.

Manager Jim Leyland confirmed Wednesday that left-hander Drew Smyly was pulled from his start at Triple-A Toledo Tuesday night after an inning as a precaution — not for his own health, but for Fister’s situation. If Fister can’t pitch Saturday, Smyly most surely will.

“I would say that’s probably true,” Leyland said.

Fister, who has an adductor strain in his right groin, was scheduled to play catch on Wednesday off flat ground, not off a mound. That won’t be the final determination, but it should give them an idea how much it’s limiting him.

“There’s still some soreness there,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. “We’re aggressive, but we have to be smart aggressive.”

Smyly pulled after an inning for Toledo

Jacob Turner filled the role of Mud Hens starter on call for most of the summer until the Tigers traded him to Florida last month. Adam Wilk did it early this season. Andy Oliver did it for nearly two years. Even Casey Crosby got a shot earlier this season.

Now, is Drew Smyly the next in line?

With Doug Fister questionable for his next scheduled start with a right adductor strain, and Smyly’s start Tuesday night for Triple-A Toledo lasting only one inning, you have to wonder.

It wasn’t a bad inning for Smyly, 13 pitches with no hits, a walk and a strikeout. There were no reports of injury coming out of his start on the road at Lehigh Valley. What it does is keep Smyly’s arm fresh in case the Tigers need him to come back on three days’ rest and start in Doug Fister’s place Saturday against the Angels.

The Mud Hens were rained out in Lehigh Valley on Monday, so there’s no one completely on turn. The only other clear option would be Wilk, who started for Toledo on Sunday and has ample experience with the big club. One problem with Wilk is that the Mud Hens will most likely need him on Friday, and the Tigers might not be sure whether Fister can go by then.

One catch with Smyly, though, is that he hasn’t pitched deep into games since joining the Hens at the end of July. He hasn’t gotten through five innings in any of his five starts since the Tigers optioned him, and his 4 2/3 innings last week marked his first time getting through the fourth.

Fister dealing with groin injury, next start iffy

When Jim Leyland was asked today if he has ever had a team with as many rotation injuries as what the Blue Jays have dealt with, his answer eventually drifted to his own team. That might have been a pretty good hint that something wasn’t right.

Then Leyland updated the situation on Doug Fister, who is dealing with what Leyland called a “groin issue.”

It’s a big enough issue that neither Leyland nor Fister is certain he’ll make his next scheduled start on Saturday.

“We’re taking it day by day,” Fister said.

The tightness was a problem on Fister’s warmup pitches before his opening inning Sunday against Baltimore, but he was able to pitch through it without making it any worse.

“I felt it a little bit early on,” Fister said. “It ended up feeling tight afterwards.”

What happens if Fister can’t go isn’t clear. Triple-A Toledo was rained out Monday night, so the only pitcher who’s close to being on turn for Saturday is Adam Wilk, who started for the Mud Hens on Sunday. Drew Smyly last pitched last Friday, and he hasn’t pitched through the fifth inning since he started pitching again near the end of July.

Smyly wins his case, again

The Tigers go into the season with a downright scary offense, a top-four rotation that can cover innings, and a bullpen that can carry a lead for a good while if they have to. They play in a division they have the potential to win running away. and an established rotation that pretty much could map out a postseason staff tomorrow if it had to.

No matter what some might say about leaving nothing to chance and taking a proven arm, if you were ever going to paint a situation to break in a young starter, this might be it. If the Tigers couldn’t find that starter out of 5-6 in-house candidates, it would’ve been an indictment of a farm system built around young pitching.

If Drew Smyly makes it, he’ll be a very nice triumph for the Tigers system, especially the scouting department. He wasn’t the typical big, hard-throwing pitcher the Tigers usually draft with their early picks, and he wasn’t necessarily the kind of risk the Tigers have shown they’re willing to take in some years when they get past the first day. There was a risk, since the Tigers couldn’t be sure he was willing to leave after his breakout sophomore season at Arkansas, but he was better known for the pitches he throws than how hard he throws them.

That happened in the summer of 2010. Less than two years later, he’s in the big-league rotation. Starting with last spring at Lakeland, he pitched his way onto the fast track. When he got his shot at big league camp to give the Tigers brass a look at him, he kept it up.

“I wouldn’t say [I was] confident that I would be the guy,” Smyly said of his approach coming into camp, “but I was definitely confident that I could show them that I’m capable of being the guy. I mean, it’s up to them to pick who they want to be up there, but from the first day of spring training until now, I was just excited to get to show everybody what I had, because last year I didn’t really get to pitch, and they didn’t really get to see me much at either high-A and Double-A.”

When they told him he was heading north with the Tigers, he called it the best news he has ever been told, topping the day the Tigers drafted him. He made his case as a cool customer on the mound, as manager Jim Leyland put it, right down to the last start he had against the Cardinals in Jupiter.

“He was a little not-quite-so-cool,” Leyland described him in his reaction to the news. “He did handle it pretty mature, really, but he was excited.”

Did he benefit from some other guys struggling? Sure. Leyland’s comments Sunday morning made it sound like Andy Oliver definitely had a shot to win the job the way he was going until his control problems flashed again, and Jacob Turner’s shoulder tendinitis never really allowed him a chance to recover from his early spring struggles. But in Smyly, they have a pitcher who keeps showing since draft day that he can handle the next level he’s at. And in the end, he had more pitches, and more good pitches that he could spot, than anyone else in the field. It’s a good day for the Tigers scouting department.

Tigers option Oliver to Toledo

The battle for the Tigers’ fifth starter job is now down to two pitchers. And neither the perceived favorite going in, nor the perceived favorite from last week, are left in the field.

The Tigers optioned Andy Oliver to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday after two subpar outings, including six earned runs in three-plus innings against the Astros on Tuesday, ruined what had the makings of a breakout spring for the power left-hander.

With Oliver out, the field for the fifth starter is now down to hard-charging prospect Drew Smyly and more experienced left-hander Duane Below. Smyly stayed in the race by pitching 4 2/3 innings with three runs allowed against the Cardinals on Wednesday in Jupiter. Below will get his final audition Friday against the Orioles in Sarasota.

Oliver held Grapefruit League opponents scoreless for his first nine innings this spring, including four innings of one-hit ball against the Mets March 12. His performances seemed to suggest that his mid-summer struggles last season at Triple-A Toledo were behind him, and he was able to command the ball consistently.

However, a five-walk outing against the Twins last Wednesday put that into serious question.

Tuesday’s outing, including seven hits and a 30-pitch second inning, raised too many doubts for the Tigers to break camp with him. His earned-run average, in turn, rose from 0.00 to 5.17 in just over a week.

Oliver will be on his third turn through Toledo. He ended the 2010 season there before spending most of last year in the Mud Hens rotation. He’ll join top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, who appeared to be the favorite for the job until early spring struggles and a bout with shoulder tendinitis put him too far behind.

Trade for fifth starter more likely? Hold on

While Andy Oliver walked five batters over 3 2/3 innings — and let’s be fair, that’s more of the question about his outing than the three-run homer — John Lannan tossed four scoreless innings for the Nationals Wednesday afternoon against the Braves. That was obviously a pretty big contrast in the question about the fifth starter job, though the tables were turned on Oliver and Lannan before that.

But then came the postgame word from Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who apparently gave the impression to reporters — including’s Bill Ladson — that they’re not expecting Chien-Ming Wang to be ready for the start of the season.

John Lannan’s rumored availability on the trade market centered on the expectation that Washington won’t have a rotation spot for him. If Wang opens the season on the disabled list with his hamstring injury, then the Nats have a rotation spot to fill. One would expect they’d do it with Lannan.

Whenever the idea of trading for a starting pitcher has been mentioned, Lannan has been the oft-mentioned name. In fact, there aren’t a whole lot of names that have been mentioned after that. Some have speculated that Freddy Garcia could be available if the Yankees open the season with Andy Pettitte back in the rotation,  but even if he is, he isn’t a name that should be linked with the Tigers. Roy Oswalt doesn’t sound like a realistic option at this point.

At some point — and maybe you have already — you have to ask yourself: Is what’s out there on the market really better than what’s in the system right now? And if it is, is it important enough to go get right now?

Bottom line: I’m not so sure Oliver’s struggles Wednesday make a trade any more likely than it was 24 hours ago. Drew Smyly will get his shot to answer against Nationals minor-league hitters tomorrow at noon, and Duane Below gets a crack at the Yankees on Sunday in Tampa. After that, the Tigers still have nine days of Grapefruit League games left, essentially two more turns through the rotation. Two turns provides ample chances for a pitcher to bounce back from one struggling outing.

That’s not to say a trade won’t happen. It’s certainly not unthinkable anymore. But using one start as a reason for it seems like an overreaction.

What we learned today: That inconsistent command Andy Oliver had last year might not completely be in the past, though it would be incomplete to grade it now.

For what it’s worth, Jim Leyland said after the game that he felt like he noticed something that could help out Oliver, and he passed it along to pitching coach Jeff Jones.

What to remember: Austin Jackson’s stolen base on Liam Hendriks’ first pitch to Brennan Boesch wasn’t called. He had the green light, and he wanted to test out leads and reading pitchers. He wants to get some work in on that between now and the end of camp, which could be a good sign for Tigers fans who wonder why he hasn’t stolen more bases.

Hey, it’s only Spring Training: Brennan Boesch, who was belting the ball earlier this spring, is now batting .211 in Grapefruit League play after going 0-for-2 Wednesday. Here’s guessing he will not do that come the regular season.

Day 6: Turner, Smyly … Who’s more polished?

Jacob Turner and Drew Smyly have a budding rivalry going … in Tiger Woods Golf.

They’re not roommates here at spring training, but along with Casey Crosby, they’re hanging out and playing video games, much like Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry were doing a few years ago. Their trash talk carries over into the Tigers locker room, where Turner was razzing Smyly while he was being interviewed.

Turner has taken his fair share of rookie abuse for the past two spring trainings here, so he has finally earned the chance to dish it out. And yet Smyly, in his first spring training with the big club in just his second professional season, is nearly two years older than Turner.

The way they interact back up Jim Leyland’s feeling that this isn’t a competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Nonetheless, they’re two talented pitching prospects who could break camp in the rotation, though they can’t both do it. And they come from vastly different routes to this point.

Turner just began his third season as a professional pitcher. He has started all three years in Major League camp with the Tigers after Detroit drafted him in the first round in 2009 (in fact, if you don’t count the compensation round, he’s the last Tigers first-round pick). He has logged more spring training time with the Tigers than any other starting candidate in this camp, and he has more Major League and minor league starts than Justin Verlander did before he cracked the Tigers rotation in 2006.

At age 20, he can face big-league hitters in workouts and not look overwhelmed at all. He sounds like somebody who has been through this before, even though he has only watched it.

“I think this one might be more exciting for me,” Turner said, “just because this is my third year and I’m more comfortable being around everything and I know what to expect, what’s going on. I’m definitely really excited for this spring, and we’ll see what happens.”

Smyly, as mentioned, is beginning his second pro season and his first big-league camp. When Turner was going through his first camp two years ago, Smyly was going through the SEC at the University of Arkansas. When Turner was on standby here as a possible postseason injury replacement if Detroit needed a starter, Smyly was pitching for Team USA in the Pan Am Games in Mexico.

“Now, I’m in the same big league camp as Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera,” Smyly said.

He isn’t a prototypical hard-throwing Tigers pick, but his polish by all accounts last year was impressive for somebody just beginning his career. He put that on display for Tigers coaches when he faced hitters for the first time, and they left impressed.

Smyly brought more experience into this camp than Turner did into his first one. Turner, however, brought more pro experience. Their experiences, so far, have been parallel. When the Tigers called up Turner from Double-A Erie for his Major League debut July 30, Smyly replaced him in Erie’s rotation that night, having been called up a few days earlier.

Bottom line, neither of them are here just for show, or just for experience. Either of these guys could break camp.

Someone check on Wilson Betemit: They’re actually separate items, but they add up to a brutal day for former Tigers. Joel Zumaya ended a live throwing session early at Twins camp on Saturday after reportedly feeling something in his elbow. Later, Scott Sizemore reportedly sprained his knee during infield drills at A’s camp. Meanwhile, Carlos Guillen has missed the last two days of Mariners workouts with calf tightness, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. The M’s reportedly don’t believe it’s anything serious.

Actual workout item of the day: Both Turner and Smyly pitched against live hitters Saturday, and neither looked like green prospects. Turner went time and again to the outside corner with breaking pitches, trying to show he can spot it for a strike. Hitters made contact against him, but most of it on the ground. Smyly mixed pitches deceptively and got swings and misses from a group of hitters that included Gerald Laird, Audy Ciriaco and Jerad Head.

Actual workout item of the day, part 2: Daniel Schlereth came into camp looking to improve his fastball command, and Saturday was a start. Schlereth wasn’t completely pleased with it, but he was pretty upbeat, and he had coaches watching. He said he’s also throwing a slightly different slider with a little different movement.

Non-workout item of the day: Leyland stated the obvious on Saturday, that they haven’t decided anything on the open rotation spot and that they don’t have any favorites.

“We’re putting them all out there and we’re going to make a decision,” Leyland said. “We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t even played games. Nobody has a leg up on anybody.”

Quote of the day: “All-Northern Lakes League doesn’t usually send you to Canton.” — Leyland on his football career

Dombrowski rules out Oswalt, rules in Smyly

You might have read on the blog yesterday the quote from Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski saying they’re only likely to go for a non-roster invite if they do add a pitcher to compete for the open rotation. He pretty much repeated that Friday to MLB Network Radio, ruling themselves out of the Roy Oswalt hunt.

“I don’t think we’ll get Roy Oswalt, no,” Dombrowski told host Jim Bowden. “I don’t think that’s a potential. But I do think that we have other guys internally, guys that don’t get much attention at this point, but guys that could fill a fifth starter spot.”

That wasn’t really a surprise, since reportedly Oswalt spurned any interest from the Tigers earlier.’s Jon Heyman reported late Friday night that the Tigers offered Oswalt a one-year, $10 million contract well before they moved aggressively to sign Prince Fielder. Oswalt rejected the offer, even though it supposedly met the agent’s asking price.

Dombrowski again sounded like someone leaning towards letting his organizational products compete for the fifth spot. He gave an extra plug, however, to left-hander Drew Smyly, who won Tigers minor league pitcher of the year honors in his first pro season.

“He was a second-round pick for us a couple years ago,” Dombrowski said, “and a lot of people think that he’s ready to pitch here right now. We’ll see. He pitched very well last year, and also pitched well internationally this wintertime [at the Pan Am Games]. He was the top pitcher on the team there.”

Dombrowski also mentioned Adam Wilk and Duane Below as options if Jacob Turner doesn’t get the job, which was the question Bowden asked.

“Those are the possibilities,” Dombrowski said, “and I also wouldn’t discount signing someone that is a non-roster invitee and bringing him to camp and seeing if they can challenge for it.