From the Detroit Free Press‘ official Twitter feed comes word that the Tigers have named 22-year-old left-hander Drew Smyly as their No. 5 starter.
Smyly posted a 2.84 ERA and tallied 10 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings this spring in the Grapefruit League, winning the job over fellow Tigers southpaw Duane Below, who surrendered nine runs in 15 2/3 frames.
Detroit doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 12, so Smyly will make one appearance in the minor leagues to open the year before being added, officially, to the major league roster.
The former second-round pick registered a 2.07 ERA and 130/36 K/BB ratio in 126 innings last season between Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. He has yet to throw a pitch at the Triple-A level.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.