Smyly has been terrific in his first three big league starts. While he doesn't have a win to show for his efforts, the Tigers are 2-1 in his starts.
"In fairness to the kid, we rushed him," said Jim Leyland. "He looks like he has a chance to settle into that spot though. We're very happy with him"
The one trait Smyly has exhibited so far is a steely confidence. "I think I was born with that," he said. "I've always been laid back."
Of course, enduring a spring competition with some other very talented pitchers and playing college baseball in the SEC at Arkansas has helped his confidence. "College helped," he said. "Playing in front of seven or eight thousand people at Arkansas is a lot for a freshman. So was the experience of battling talents like Jacob Turner, Adam Wilk and Andy Oliver in spring training. "Competing against top talent and players with their skill sets can only make you better," he said.
But all of those experiences can only help you so much. You still have to perform when you get your opportunity. For Smyly, his first opportunity came against the Tampa Bay Rays. He promptly loaded the bases in the first inning of his first start with nobody out. "I thought, 'you've got to be kidding me right now, this isn't the start I was hoping for'," he said. "I just stepped off the mound and told myself to throw a strike.". Before he knew it, he has worked out of a bases loaded jam and life in the big leagues became a little less stressful.
Fast starts a great and many rookies have enjoyed them. The tough part is maintaining. "He's going to have to adjust to the league after they see him a few times," Leyland said.
From my vantage point, that should be no problem. Smyly not only has good poise, but good stuff as well. Watching him develop might be one of this summer's bright spots.