DETROIT, MI - JUNE 05: Drew Smyly #33 of the Detroit Tigers throws a fifth-inning pitch while playing the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on June 5, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jim Leyland broke out the calculator in explaining why the Tigers will keep Smyly with the big club instead of optioning him back to Triple A Toledo.
"It's simple arithmetic," Leyland said. "It's not hard to figure out. You've got Smyly for protection if Fister's not ready. If Fister's ready, then Smyly by that time can fall into the bullpen as a long guy. So that's pretty simple."
For what it's worth, Smyly isn't concerned about coming out if the bullpen.
"I can get warm pretty quick," he said. "If I was in the bullpen, I don't think it would be any problem for me. I mean, if I was in the bullpen in the major leagues, I don't think it would take me long to get ready to go out and throw."
Smyly has a 4-3 record and 4.22 ERA in 16 starts for the Tigers. In 3 starts since the All-Star break Smyly is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA, the Tigers winning all 3.
As well as Smyly has pitched in a starting role, it only makes sense to keep him with the Tigers as both an insurance policy and as a fall-back relief option. Keeping your best arms with the team is a good thing. So is making sure Smyly is eligible for the post-season.
One thing to keep in mind is Smyly has very limited experience as a a relief pitcher. By limited, I mean one appearance in relief with the Erie Seawolves in 2011.