Tigers Name Smyly Fifth Starter: Fan Reaction

As the onset of a potentially successful 2012 season emerges, the biggest question the Detroit Tigers have been facing is which of their many talented young arms would be securing the void as fifth starter. As the competition between Andy Oliver, Duane Below and Drew Smyly came to a boiling point, it was a certainty that one of the three left-handers would be filling the coveted role. However, the choice would be one of deep consideration as the trio is young, full of expectation and, unfortunately, have had little experience.

Smyly, the youngest and least experience of the group, was a longshot to win the position. As life tends to do, once in a while, the longshot comes out ahead. Announced on Sunday, April 1, Smyly will be the lone left-hander in the Tigers' starting rotation. The 22-year-old, who has not played above the Double-A level in his one, lone season, proved his mettle, edging out the remaining candidates.

In his first full season in the minors, split between Single- and Double-A, Smyly boasted an 11-6 record with a 2.07 ERA. A four-pitch hurler who led the organization in ERA, his breaking pitches have been keeping his name on the list of viable prospects in the Tigers' farm system, along with enamoring him with last season's MLB.com organizational Pitcher of the Year award.

While a surprise to many, Smyly's emergence has been a near certainty to those in the Detroit Tigers' front offices. He has shown the ability to dominate with off-speed mastery and has the control necessary to excel in the major leagues. The only discriminating factor against him, to this point, was his lack of experience. Apparently, this is no longer the case, in the eyes of manager Jim Leyland.

Smyly now joins a rotation built around exceeding expectations. He, and fellow starters Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, are faced with the daunting task of measuring up to a Tigers' offense that, if successfully paired, could land Detroit in the midst of a World Series championship. For Smyly, the potential is something to be grateful for, as well as something to look toward with intensity and gritty workmanship. The Tigers believe he is up for the challenge.

The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.

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Updated Monday, Apr 2, 2012