SO. It is now down to just two contestants, folks. Duane Below vs. Drew Smyly in the fight for their lives. Or, rather, the fifth starting spot on the Detroit Tigers pitching staff: the opportunity of a lifetime.
So, what do you know about these dashing young prospects? Not much, you say? Well, we're here to give you a ton of info about the dynamic duo that you need to know (and probably some that you don't).
Duane Arthur Below, as many of you know, is a Michigan boy, born and raised. This 6'3, left-handed, 26-year-old stunna started for the Tigers last year and did reasonably well in the job. However, he excelled in the bullpen with one of his best outings being in that horrible, drawn-out, extra-inning clusterf*** of a game at Progressive Field, where Duane pitched four scoreless innings with nary a baserunner. (He was one of the only bright spots of that game of terrors, if we remember correctly).
He's also fairly adorable, and this is one quality that never, ever hurts. Ladies, are we in agreement???
The upside to Duane is that we know what he can do. He's proven that he's more than capable of, at the very least, coming out of the bullpen, since he did pretty well in that role last year and barely missed making a playoff roster spot. The real question is though is if he has the stuff to perform consistently well in a starting role. We're not looking for Justin Verlander material here. We're just searching for a guy who can go out there and get a quality start the majority of the time. And Duane definitely has the potential to do that.
Now, on to our other canidate…
Todd Andrew Smyly. What a name. This alone gives him some sort of leg up, right? Wrong? Well, either way, this guy may be a skinny kid with a funny name, but boy can he throw. At 22 years old he is already vying for a starting spot in the Bigs after posting a stellar 2.07 ERA last year in Lakeland and Erie.
He, too, is also fairly adorable. This never hurts.
However, he is a gigantic question mark when it comes to taking a starting spot in the Major Leagues. He's never done it before, so why rush him? The Unproven Rookie scares a lot of people (read: Lynn Henning), and we can't say we blame them. The question is if it will scare away the coaching staff as well. Baby Smyly has put up some really impressive numbers this Spring Training and last year. It would obviously be a move laced with risk (is he really ready?), but it could be hard to deny him.
A Fight to the Death this probably isn't--these two could both wind up on the team at the same time--but it is exciting nonetheless. There seems to be a small faction of Tigers fans still hoping that Dombrowski will look outside of the system for our Number Five Guy. We think that Tigers fans should see what the new starter--whoever he may be--can do.
As a quick PS: We're so excited for the one and only Craig Monroe to be a part of the Fox Sports Detroit team!!! Can you imagine Rod Allen AND C-Mo in the same broadcast? Mind. Blown.
One week to go. We can make it. We can make it!