Way back in 1987, the Tigers traded 20-year-old prospect John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander. It is one of the most rehashed trades of all time, thanks to what Smoltz became. But Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA for Detroit and helped the Tigs win the division.
Smoltz was designated for assignment by the Red Sox and I'm not alone in wondering whether he might now finally pitch for the Tigers. He is a Michigan native and it would be pretty wild if he joined the squad and helped them win the division this season.
In Boston, Smoltz posted an 8.33 ERA in 8 starts. According to fangraphs.com, his K/9 was 7.43 and BB/9 was 2.03. Those aren't terrible numbers. His BABIP was a ridiculous .390 and his LOB percentage an equally absurd 57 percent. His line drive percentage was 18, so he's not getting raked. Something doesn't compute.
His fastball is averaging 91.3 mph, which isn't bad either. The speed of his slider is down by about 2 mph, so I wonder if that's the trouble? Batters are making contact on 63 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, so could one guess the slider is no longer a swing-and-a-miss?
Still, given the Tigers need for pitching, it is intriguing.