DETROIT -- The Tigers had Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello competing for a starting rotation spot in Spring Training. The team carried Smyly in the bullpen out of camp with the idea that he could be a spot starter if needed.
So with Anibal Sanchez shelved Sunday, why didn't Smyly make the start? The short answer is time. Enough of it has passed since Smyly was stretched out as a starter that the Tigers don't believe he could fill enough innings before tiring. The way he has been pitching, the risk of injury would be a concern, as well.
If the Tigers expected Sanchez to miss several starts, rather than just one, their choice with Smyly might be different. Under that scenario, the Tigers could send Smyly to Triple-A to stretch out his arm again before returning.
If the Tigers felt like Smyly was their only insurance starter, they might still send him out. But manager Jim Leyland is clearly hoping it doesn't come to that at any point this year.
"Smyly [in the bullpen] makes us the best team right now," Leyland said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.