Fifth starter candidate Drew Smyly will be taking a major test today, as he is set to take on the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 in Jupiter, FL.
Drew’s last start against the Class-A Atlanta Braves was a great one. Going four innings, while not allowing a run and striking out eight. Granted it was against lesser minor league players but still, his stuff was impressive nevertheless. In eight Major League exhibition innings, Drew has only allowed one run.
Today though will be a much different story as far as competition goes. The Cardinals had an off day yesterday so, they’ll be well rested and ready to go. Plus at this stage in Spring Training, most teams during home games, tend start their regulars.
So Drew will be facing the likes of hitters such as, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, David Freese etc. These guys will more then likely be getting three at bats against him do to the fact that at this stage in the Spring, pitchers tend to pitch further into games. So it’ll be vital for Drew to be able to mix up his pitch selection, location and speeds to be affective in getting those veteran hitters out.
With Andy Oliver struggling to find his “out” pitch in his last start on Tuesday against the Astros (3IP, 7H, 7R, 6ER, 2BB, 3SO), and being so close to the end of Spring Training, if Drew is the least bit effective, say he goes 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 4SO, I think it’ll push him even more further ahead of the pack of other fifth starter candidates.
I wouldn’t say this is a make or break start for Drew but, it’ll be a major eye opener for the Jim, and the rest of the Tigers Organization, if Drew can show effectiveness in getting veteran Cardinals hitters out.