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Predicting the 25-man roster: Oliver, Smyly making their case for fifth starter

Duane Below remains in the hunt for fifth-starter, but he's got company.
Duane Below remains in the hunt for fifth-starter, but he's got company.

A few more changes this week. They might be changes just for the sake of changes. One of the biggest mistakes you can do in analyzing camp battles is put too much emphasis on spring training stats. The teams are looking for evidence a player has fixed what ails he had in prior years, have the makeup to make the club and fit into the roles that are necessary. Certainly it helps to have a good spring, but it's just one variable of many.

Starting pitchers (5)

  1. Justin Verlander - RHP
  2. Doug Fister - RHP
  3. Max Scherzer - RHP
  4. Rick Porcello - RHP
  5. Andrew Oliver - LHP
Fifth starter really seems up in the air to me. Oliver now has two appearances in a row without issuing a walk. That's a step in the right direction, but is it enough? No. If he keeps it up during the final two weeks of spring? It just might be. In fact, if Oliver could finally live up to his potential it would be pretty exciting. So let's just hope that is the case. Drew Smyly is likely in competition as well as Duane Below. It looks like a left-hander will round out the rotation to begin the year. Adam Wilk hasn't done anything to earn it, and Casey Crosby was recently removed from the race

Relief pitchers (7)
  1. Jose Valverde (RHP, closer)
  2. Joaquin Benoit (RHP, setup)
  3. Octavio Dotel (RHP, 7th)
  4. Phil Coke (LHP, 7th)
  5. Daniel Schlereth (LHP)
  6. Collin Balester (RHP)
  7. Duane Below (LHP, long relief)
One reason I thought I'd try slotting Oliver in as a starter is that maybe Below fits better as a long reliever. Maybe Wilk still does. RHPs Luis Marte and Brayan Villarreal have both had terrific springs so far, too, and could very well make the team. On the other hand, the Tigers traded for Balester and he's out of options, so it makes sense to give him the first look. He's done nothing this year to talk his way out of the job.

Catchers (2)
  1. Alex Avila -- LHB
  2. Gerald Laird - RHB
These continue to be set in stone.

Infielders (6)
  1. Prince Fielder (LHB, 1st base)
  2. Jhonny Peralta (RHB, SS)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, RHB, 3rd)
  4. Ramon Santiago, (S, INF)
  5. Brandon Inge (RHB, INF)
  6. Ryan Raburn (RHB, INF)
I see no changes here this week.

Outfielder (4)
  1. Brennan Boesch (LHB, RF)
  2. Austin Jackson* (RHB, CF)
  3. Delmon Young (RHB, LF)
  4. Andy Dirks (LHB, OF)
Maybe it is Clete Thomas here. I'm just not ready to swap names around. But Thomas is having a nice spring and he's out of options, so we'll see.

Don Kelly (1)
  1. Don Kelly (S, util)
Don Kelly, clean-up batter wizard.