Monday, April 07, 2014

Drew Smyly, Robbie Ray, Doug Fister trade and what to do about the Tigers bullpen

Baseball trades are strange. Some that look like the best, turn out to be the worst - and vice versa.

Drew Smyly: Is he best in bullpen?
Few trades have been panned as much in this town, or nationally, as the Tigers dealing a solid starting pitcher, Doug Fister, to Washington for utilityman Steve Lombardozzi, lefty reliever Ian Krol and pitching prospect Robbie Ray. And it looked even worse this spring when the Tigers traded Lombardozzi to Baltimore for 37-year-old shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who hadn't played much in the major leagues in recent years and could have simply been signed during the off season. Oh, that was before Lombardozzi made a brilliant defensive play Sunday playing second base at Comerica Park in the Orioles' victory over the Tigers.
There were circumstances - the injury to Jose Iglesias.
But in the aftermath of the trade, I found it curious the first player acquired in the trade Tigers' general manager Dave Dombrowski discussed was Ray, the 22-year-old left-hander.
Ray pitched well for half-season in Double-A last year. The Tigers loved the way he pitched against their Double-A Erie farm club for Harrisburg.
But the Tigers are trying to win now. To me, it seemed, Ray's most value might come from being flipped into another trade as a prospect in-season.
Doug Fister: On DL
Well, it's turned out the Tigers' seem to think more about Ray's value to the big club now. That comes from him being put at Triple-A Toledo rather than Erie to begin the season. That faith, at least to this early point, has been justified. He threw five impressive innings in his first start Sunday, not allowing an earned run.
The Tigers' bullpen is floundering. Dombrowski is already stockpiling 4-A guys at Triple-A, it seems just in case.
What about Robbie Ray, though? Sound ridiculous? For sure, there has to be more success than one start at Triple-A. But there is a precedent for this from the Tigers organization. Joel Zumaya. Drew Smyly. Or Would the Tigers think about moving Smyly back to the bullpen and inserting Ray in the rotation at some point? Smyly'scareer numbers across the board are much better as a reliever than a starter in roughly the same amount of innings, including ERA (2.59 compared to 3.79) and WHIP (1.104 compared to 1.211).
As for Fister, he hasn't come back to haunt the Tigers yet. He's started the season on the disabled list, after an ailment marred spring, because of lat strain.

My column: Despite respectable start, Tigers decidedly flawed:

My column. Gustav Nyquist leads the list of Detroit's next great athletes:


Blogger Barry said...

You would think names such as Ryan Madson and Hanrahan would be gaining interest for the Tigers if they become healthy this year. Over using AA, I don't think will work and Nathan still useful but not nearly effective. I thought Lombardozzi was traded because he was not that good at ss? If Drew is still around by the MLB draft then I would not be surprise he is a Tiger. Tigers need the depth, how is Gregg throwing? He had a great start last year but then faded. I think he changed pitches last year and worked well until he faded.

10:56 PM 
Anonymous woody said...

Tigers are holding a lefty reliever convention at AAA. maybe one will emerge to be useful at the major league level.

don't see Tigers backtracking on decision to put Smyly in rotation. they could use Ray or VerHagen in the MLB pen later this season if they pass the AAA test.

4:24 PM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Ray could be starting for the Tigers as early as next year. The whole point of that trade was to give us a cheap, young, quality starter. One that was nearly major league ready.

Young starting pitching was something our organization was lacking big time, ever since the Turner trade. The trade was more for our future than the present. Like the Granderson trade was.

But it also allowed us allocate money that was being spent on our #4 pitcher on a top-notch closer instead.

9:44 AM 

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