When Doug Fister went down with an injury in his first start of the season, it left a rather large hole in the middle of the Tigers rotation.  The loss has been felt at times this season, but the emergence of rookie Drew Smyly has helped to cushion the blow dramatically.

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.



04/25/2012 15:51

Living in SEC country I am aware of the quality of ball played.To be a "Friday Night"pitcher is a huge honor.When you add this to his 2nd round pick and then the #'s he put up last year,I had an idea this kid was going to be special.Then throw in the scoreless streak he enjoyed during the World Cup of Baseball and the Pan/Am games,he had to have a leg up for the 5th starter job.I was actually hoping Below could keep him in Toledo,so the team could would acquire the extra year of control and avoid super 2 status.Both of those items seem to be in the rear view mirror now,so we can just enjoy the ride now.Reading scouting and listening to a couple games,I likened his stuff to Cliff Lee.I realize that is a huge label to place on him,but the more I see him,the more I think it is a very fair comparison.By the way,I stumbled upon your twitter,linked to this page and really appreciate reading your thoughts and opinions.Keep up the great work and try to keep Rod in line!

MJ (Mary Jane) Moore
05/15/2012 18:31

Hi Mario! First of all ... LOVE you and Rod! You do such a great job and I always learn a lot from you both.

I am writing to raise your consciousness about something - a little thing perhaps, but still something you should be aware of. The other night I heard you refer to the Citizens of Michigan as "MICHIGANDERS." The correct term for us is "MICHIGANIAN!" Many people have not studied our history (I did up at CMU) but someone should tell you that "MICHIGANER" is an insult. It was a word invented by ABRAHAM LINCOLN when he was furious with our former Governor, Lewis Cass. And he meant the insult ... Cass had the chance to prevent the Civil War and he played politics instead of 'doing the right thing.' So each time the term is used, it perpetuates the insult.

Are you a Michiganer or a Michiganian?

One wonders if Abraham Lincoln would have an opinion. He is attributed with the first known use of “Michigander.” In 1848, he used the word to describe former Michigan territorial governor Lewis Cass.

That year, Cass was the Democratic Presidential candidate, and Lincoln was in the rival Whig Party. Lincoln accused the Democrats of “dovetailing onto the great Michigander” and then “tying him to a military tail.”

In A. Lincoln: A Biography, Robert C. White explains this bit of clever wordplay: The Democrats were running Cass as a military hero, touting their candidates’ War of 1812 exploits. Lincoln was essentially calling Cass “a silly goose” (“gander” being a term for a male goose) and accusing the Democrats of inflating Cass’ military record (i.e. tying the “goose” to “a military tail.”)

Cheers, MJ Moore


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