The summer of 2009 was a magical time, people had enjoyed The Hangover and hadn’t yet suffered through a sequel containing repackaging of the same material. Bob Saget’s show Surviving Suburbia had premiered and hadn’t yet been cancelled, and then-20-year-old Rick Porcello was giving Detroit Tigers’ fans optimism about his future.
Detroit fans assumed he would get better. However, these were some of the same people who assumed Juan Gonzalez would be the savior the Tigers were looking for in 2000, so yes, these fans have been known to make bad assumptions in the past. Once thought of as maturing into a second ace on the team, Porcello has regressed since 2009 with his ERA and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) both showing increases since his rookie year, hardly the direction you’d like to see from these numbers from a maturing pitcher.
The confidence and optimism have turned into frustration. In 2009 Porcello was chosen by Tigers’ skipper Jim Leyland to start Game 163 against the Minnesota Twins. The 5.2 innings he pitched in that game would be more than he would pitch in the entire 2012 Playoffs. Simply put, he’s like a baby with a handgun—we’re no longer confident he’ll do the right thing in any situation of large magnitude.
Still, Porcello is only 24 years young. If he were over thirty the Tigers’ management would cut and run. Well, probably not literally run, more likely just fill out some paperwork after they cut Porcello and tell him to clean out his locker and turn in his parking pass. However, at 24, he still has this upside potential that makes owners feel that he could still develop into that ace that they initially thought he could be.
The 2013 campaign has become a make-or-break season for Porcello as a player, not just as a Tiger. One rough season is a fluke. Two is a coincidence. Three is a pattern that you can bet the Tigers and the other 29 MLB teams will have picked up on. For Detroit, or any other teams, to want to have him on their roster Porcello is going to need to buck the under-performing trend he’s been in the last three years. Otherwise, you can bet the Tigers will be looking to swindle some other team into taking him before he any further solidifies himself as just another guy who didn’t live up to the hype or the money.
Once upon a time in 2009 Tigers’ fans spoke of their rookie sensation as the light in their life, but now there’s only love in the dark for potential that may never be achieved. There’s nothing left to say; Tigers’ fans have had a total eclipse of the heart.