Over the winter, many people were predicting that Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello was going to have a breakout season in 2014. Although some of those hopes were dampened when Porcello had a rough Spring Training by going 1-2 with a 7.85 ERA, he has seemingly worked out all of the kinks and it now appears that he is indeed headed towards his finest season to date.
Through his first seven starts of the regular season, Porcello has gone 6-1 while posting an ERA of 3.22, which is more than a full run below his career ERA of 4.44. He also has a very impressive WHIP of 1.03, and his opponents are batting just .244 against him. It is beginning to look like the Porcello Tigers fans have been waiting to see since he was drafted back in 2007 has finally showed up, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Although Porcello finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after a very impressive freshman campaign back in 2009, it has not exactly been smooth sailing for him since. Porcello has not finished a season with an ERA below 4.00 since his rookie year, and he posted sub .500 records in 2010 and 2012. He also gave up a league-leading 226 hits back in 2012 and posted a bloated WHIP of 1.53.
Porcello appeared to turn over a new leaf last season by recording new career-bests in strikeouts (142), WHIP (1.28) and winning percentage (.619), and he also posted a very solid ERA of 3.71 in the second half. It now appears that those numbers were merely a foreshadowing of what was to come.
Heading into the season, Porcello was given the task of replacing fellow ground-ball pitcher Doug Fister who was dealt to the Washington Nationals last December. Not only has he succeeded in doing that, but he and Robbie Ray have helped make it much easier for the Tigers to absorb losing reigning AL ERA champion Anibal Sanchez, who was placed on the disabled list with a blister problem in late April.
The way that Porcello has been pitching this season is making everyone forget about his rocky outings of the past, and it has been well worth the wait to see him become the pitcher that he is today. At the tender age of 25, Porcello already has 67 wins under his belt and it appears that his best baseball could still very well be ahead of him.
The Tigers may want to start thinking about locking Porcello up as he is set to hit the free-agent market after the 2015 season. Hopefully they will have better luck with him than they did with Max Scherzer.