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Pondering on Porcello

June 11, 2010

John Stroba-Writer


With Rick Porcello getting absolutely blown up in his last start, some people are wondering if he needs to get a few starts down in Toledo. That is a big overreaction. While there is no denying that Porcello did get lit up like a firecracker on the 4th of July, the previous starts to his last one have been pretty good. Heading into his last start, he was putting up a 3.41 ERA over 37 innings and a 1.27 WHIP as well.

What is starting to become a bit of a concern though is that Porcello just is not striking out a lot of people (4.01 k/9) and is even down from a very low start last year (4.69 k/9). He absolutely needs to up those K rates if he does have designs on having a long term career in the majors. His walk rate is staying the same as last year and that is pushing down the BB/SO (want at least 1/2 ratio) down closer to 1. Now, Porcello is surviving so far because he does induce a lot of ground balls. Sinkerball pitchers do not have to have a great K/9 rate in order to survive (but note that the bare minimum K rate should be 1 every 2 innings (or 4.5/9)), so striking out around 6 guys per 9 innings go a longer ways than it would for a flyball pitcher. The reason is that the more groundballs induced the higher chances for routine outs, and even a sharply hit groundball is almost always a single.

So there are some warning signs here with Porcello, especially in the long term. But sending someone down to Toledo requires bringing someone up as well. And there is nobody down in Toledo worth bringing up at this time that can start. I suppose that the Tigers could bring up another RP and move Bonine to the starting rotation, but Bonine is soaking up a lot of innings right now (currently tied with most pen innings along with Zumaya). Bringing up a guy that can only go 1-2 innings is just going to make things more stressful on the bullpen. Already the Tigers have had to put Ryan Perry on the DL (calling up the very hittable Enrique Gonzalez). The best option is Andrew Oliver down in Erie, but it is hard seeing the Tigers bringing him up for anything more than a spot start or two a month or so from now.

Right now, the best option the Tigers have in house is to keep pitching Porcello hoping that more starts are going to be like the previous ones prior to getting nailed in his last start. The bottom line is that the Tigers are getting in more and more desperate need for acquiring some starting pitching.

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