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Smyly has settled into setup role for Tigers

Smyly has settled into setup role for Tigers

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DETROIT -- Drew Smyly has been forced to wear a ton of hats this season, from trying to make the team as a starter in Spring Training, to being a long reliever at the beginning of the year, to finally becoming a late-inning setup man.

He's thrived in each role, with a 2.04 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 53 innings, the second-highest innings total among relievers in the Majors.

"We kind of had to wait to see how the bullpen was going to look and play out, so we kind of had to make sure we had to get him innings so we didn't just sit him up here and waste him," manager Jim Leyland said. "And as it turned out, when all the pieces started to get sorted out, you figured you needed him most when you needed to win a game. And you can use him more to win three games a week or four games a week than you can [as a long reliever]."

While Smyly has transferred roles throughout the year, he's cemented as a necessity in the late innings -- for now at least.

"I'm not stretching Smyly out right now, you can forget that," Leyland said. "That's a thing of the past right now. He can stretch out in the winter -- on his bed somewhere.

"We've been very happy with him. I think he's going to be a great pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, and I think he's going to be an outstanding starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers at some point."

Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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