It’s not very often you have a fifth starter who is doing the things Rick Porcello is doing lately for the Detroit Tigers.
It has been one of the biggest luxuries the Tigers have had this season, already bolstered by having the best starting staff in baseball and also getting extremely respectable numbers from the back-end of its staff. Porcello has now set a career record for strikeouts in a season while posting a 13-8 record and an ERA below his career average. Since the end of June, he has been something no one could have seen coming.
Since June 30, Porcello has seen his ERA turn from 5.21 to 4.45. That drop would be impressive enough, but that even includes his slip-up on September 4 where he gave up eight earned runs in five innings. Without that start, you could be looking at one of the biggest ERA changes in all of baseball as Porcello has changed from a pitcher that made folks cringe to someone fans actually look forward to seeing.
Porcello has always had a breaking ball that was raved as one of the best at inducing ground balls, but now he has added consistency and a little more power to become a very impressive overall starter.
Time will tell if Porcello’s recent changes are temporary, or if he is finally ready to make the step up to the potential the Tigers saw in him when they drafted him in the first round and played him at a younger age than just about anyone else in their organization.
Porcello has always had the talent to put together start after start like he has the last three months, but the fact that he has actually put it together has been quietly the Tigers’ biggest secret weapon and strength in the second half of this season. The Tigers need him to be that secret weapon in the playoffs as well.