Crosby will debut Friday, but Tigers fans have already gotten a major glimpse of the best the system has to offer. Drew Smyly has impressed overall this season after winning the fifth spot in the rotation out of spring training. Poised and talented, the young lefty continues to gain valuable reps at the big league level while holding his own.
Brayan Villarreal struck out five of the six Boston batters he faced on Tuesday and his moving 98 MPH fastball has looked impressive next to a deadly slider. Pitching Coach Jeff Jones sees some progress after Villarreal returned from the minor leagues. “He’s like Fernando Rodney,” Jones said. “It took Fernando five or six trips to the minors to figure out that you need to just throw strikes and not over throw.”
It’s a process according to Jones. “Most guys learn that you throw at about 95% to achieve maximum control. They learn in the minor leagues how hard they can throw and still keep it in the strike zone, and Brayan is starting to get that.”
For Crosby, a big league debut against the Yankees will provide an early test. He was pitching well in Toledo and he will get the first shot to replace Fister. Crosby was in the mix during spring training for the fifth spot in the rotation, but eventually lost out to Smyly.
The reports are that he has had much better command of his fastball, something that plagued him this spring. “I think he was over throwing his fastball this spring,” Jones said. Crosby features a high octane heater and good curveball. It will be a good matchup, considering the Yankees offense is high octane as well.