In the wake of yesterday's giant David Price trade that brought Drew Smyly and Willy Adames from the Tigers to the Rays, I sent some questions to Kurt Mensching of the SB Nation Detroit Tigers blog Bless You Boys. He won't make anyone feel THAT much better about the trade, but thanks anyway, Kurt.
Ian Malinowski: How does Smyly work? What does he throw?
Kurt Mensching: He doesn't throw with much velocity, sitting in the low 90s on his fastball, so Smyly's strength lies in his location. Fastball, cutter, and an offspeed pitch somewhere between a slider and curve, with occasional forays into a changeup. He puts them where he wants to. Batters swing and miss nearly 10 percent of the time. The cutter and slurve get the most swinging strikes, though.
IM: Smyly currently has a 23% career strikeout rate, a 3.56 ERA, and peripherals to match, but he's been much better in limited innings last season. What do you see going forward from him? Is this his ceiling, his floor, or somewhere in between?
KM: Ceiling is probably third starter. He's obviously a fourth or fifth starter at the moment, no matter if he's on a good staff like Detroit's or a worse one. He was really nice out of the bullpen. Obviously more value in the rotation, but in a real strong rotation you could see him in the back end of somebody's pen. In Detroit, though, the long term plan was to remain a starter. Innings counts were going to be a concern this year, and he has to be able to work deeper in games.
IM: Rays fans are pretty far down on this deal right now. They think that the Rays sent off an ace and got middling spare parts. Do you disagree?
KM: Smyly's never been a player that has heard a lot of hype. But he's been nothing but solid since joining the Tigers -- and his playoff performance against the Yankees in 2012 remains memorable to us. In some ways you have to like what you see. He strikes out more than you expect and doesn't cause himself a lot of trouble. You can see his FIPs may not be ace level, but they are he's good enough to stick around. You definitely didn't get an ace. But you got a player you can plug into the middle of the rotation and forget about. A big issue with his time in Detroit this season was going to be the transition back from the bullpen to the rotation. (There was no room for him in the rotation last year.) He hasn't built up his inning count enough and he doesn't pitch deep enough in games, which can be a problem in Detroit.
If I were a Rays fan, I'm sure I'd feel let down too. You hate to lose a franchise face like Price. Smyly's not going to make up for it. Nick Franklin's not going to make up for it. And Willy Adames is years away. Seems like the Rays should have done better, I agree. But give Smyly a chance and you'll like him just fine -- just maybe not his SEC football rooting interests.
IM: Tell us something we don't know about Smyly and/or Adames?
KM: Smyly is a huge Razorbacks fan. Poor guy. And no, we Tigers fans didn't have a clue who Adames was either. We were just as surprised as everyone else when he was suddenly ranked among our top prospects this month