Porcello, who had been shopped around all offseason, went 4-1 with an ERA of 3.00 in six starts this Spring. He struck out 24 batters and somehow didn’t walk a single one.
Drew Smyly, Porcello’s closest competitor for the final spot in the rotation, has also pitched well but failed to convince Jim Leyland and the Tigers’ front office he was the better option. Smyly is expected to join the bullpen, likely serving as the team’s middle relief man.
Despite not being able to trade Porcello, this is an excellent situation for the Tigers. Porcello worked extremely hard over the winter to retain his spot in the rotation, and now Detroit will have a formidable starting five if the 24-year-old can keep it rolling and finally put together a season like he had as a rookie in 2009.
If Porcello falls back into his inconsistent and unreliable ways, Smyly will be there in the bullpen waiting for a chance to build on an impressive rookie season in which he went 4-3 with an ERA of 3.99 in 18 starts.
By not trading Porcello, the Tigers are basically entering the regular season with six starters, a luxury very few MLB clubs ever have. Pair that with a batting order that is arguably the best in the American League (if not all of baseball), and there’s no reason Detroit can’t get back to the World Series for a second straight year.
Now if someone could step up and grab hold of that closer’s role, this roster would basically be devoid of any weakness whatsoever.