The Detroit Tigers have one of the most respected starting pitching staffs in all of baseball. It’s no surprise, considering Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez throw heavy fire against opposing teams.
Exactly. Whenever someone’s mouth breathes anything about the Tigers’ lineup, it has to do with those three. Let’s not take anything away from Rick Porcello; he’s earning the right to stand alongside them and share the spotlight.
Porcello is off to quite the marvelous start this 2014 season, boasting a 3.12 ERA with 11 wins. Earlier in his career, consistency was a gnawing beast Porcello struggled to tame. He’d go through some good starts, eventually tumbling back into mediocrity’s path.
This year tells a different tale of the 25-year old’s career, having a solid start with consistency alongside it. He has become a very reliable starter for Detroit — even more reliable than Verlander at this point (as hard as that is on the ears). His pitches are working for him; his fastball has marvelous movement, his off-speed pitches are pummeling the strike zone, and batters can’t seem to keep the ball off the ground for easy outs.
In 12 of his 16 starts, he’s gone over five innings — that’s great for the Tigers, considering it assists with conserving the bullpen. He’s only had four poor starts; that’s not bad at all.
At this point, Porcello’s coming off of two shutouts, having silenced the Texas Rangers, and the hefty Oakland Athletics’ lineup recently. His last start against the Athletics was beyond fantastic. Porcello only gave up four hits, threw under 100 pitches, and kept Oakland’s hot hitters unbalanced. The incredible aspect of the game was that he had no strikeouts, yet still managed to dominate Oakland like a bully on a playground of infants. The game was over in under two and a half hours, and Comerica Park roared in awe over such a thrilling performance.
At this moment, Porcello possesses a lower ERA than Scherzer, Verlander, and Drew Smyly; that’s astonishing. The Tigers were considering trading Porcello off; now, more and more regret piles on teams that let the opportunity to have Porcello pass. He is finally looking poised, like the veteran that he is, even at 25.
Porcello is now a hot candidate for the All-Star Game. He should be voted in with ease. When the Tigers struggled due to Verlander and Scherzer having bad performances, Porcello stood firm along with Sanchez. His precious value cannot be undermined. It’s beginning to look like Porcello is becoming the starter everyone claimed him to be.
If this continues for Porcello, the Tigers will be blessed beyond their own beliefs. He will be a great asset in the postseason, given he already has postseason experience, allowing the Tigers to set Smyly back into the bullpen, strengthening a weakness of theirs. He takes pressure off of the bullpen and the other starting pitchers with his brilliance on the mound.
It took a while for Porcello to gain this kind of consistency. Many doubted he’d ever get there. Finally, he’s starting to provide people with a newfound belief. Porcello is still young; he can only get better. That’s a scary thought for opposing teams, but a great one for the Tigers.