OAKLAND, Calif. — Left-hander Drew Smyly makes his Rays debut tonight against the A’s, pitching on the day that would have been left-hander David Price’s spot had he not been traded to the Tigers for Smyly.
That bit of happenstance will make some conclude that Smyly is replacing Price.
“I think he’ll understand that nobody is expecting him to come in here and be David Price,” RHP Alex Cobb said.
The Rays would like Smyly to be Smyly — a young left-hander with plenty of upside who throws a fastball, curveball and cutter along with a change-up that is improving.
“David’s been a Cy Young Award winner, maybe Drew can do that someday, I don’t know,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s been good. He’s been really good. We’ll dig into him like everybody else. We have some ideas for him.”
Smyly, who was 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 21 games (18 starts) this season for the Tigers, said he just wants to pitch well tonight and make a good impression.
As for replacing Price, Smyly said he can’t do that.
“You’re not going to replace David Price,” Smyly said. “He’s going to be one of the best on any team he goes to. I’m just here to do the best I can. The Rays made the trade. They wanted me, so I’m going to do the best I can, try to learn from them and get better every game.”
Smyly has pitched 1051⁄3 innings this season. His career high is 126 in 2011 during his first year of pro ball. He pitched 76 last season. The Rays don’t let a pitcher increase their innings by more than 20 percent each season. Smyly could reach that increase this year.
“We haven’t even discussed that,” Maddon said. “I have no restrictions coming my way from anybody right now.”