It wasn’t that long ago when Rick Porcello was looked upon as one of the brighter stars in the Detroit Tigers future. When Porcello came up in 2009, he took the league by surprise by being 20-year-old capable of putting up great numbers. So much so, he even finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Porcello has struggled to replicate any kind of season like his rookie year, when he won 14 games and had a 3.96 ERA. Since then, Since 2009, he is 33-33 with 4.78 ERA and a WHIP closing in 1.50.
It may be time for the Tigers to start thinking about trading the young sinkerball pitcher, and here’s why they may want to cut ties…
He’s just not the right fit: Remember in 2009 what the Tigers defense looked like? In case you don’t, the Tigers had Gerald Laird behind the plate, who nearly won a Gold Glove; Miguel Cabrera at first, the Gold Glove second basemen Placido Polanco, Adam Everett at shortstop, and Brandon Inge rounding out the infield at third. In the outfield, there was Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, and Ryan Raburn.
Why is this important? In Porcello’s most successful year, he had a good defense behind him. Better than he has had over the last three years. Of course it’s pretty obivious that a sinkerball pitcher with a good defense behind him is going to have success. But that is the point: the Tigers have become one of the worst defensive clubs in baseball.
If you look at Porcello’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), it has been significantly lower than his ERA over the last three seasons.
2010 ERA: 4.92 FIP: 4.31
2011 ERA: 4.75 FIP: 4.06
2012 ERA: 4.68 FIP: 3.86
It supports the point that his defense is killing him on the mound. Due to the lack of range of his defenders, and the fact Porcello has also given up the most hits in the MLB this season, some routine plays are just not being made.
If Porcello pitched for a club that fielded their posistions well, he could be the winner that the Tigers were hoping to see after 2009.
Drew Smyly/Anibal Sanchez- This year the Tigers have one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball. They have four starters with ERA’s under 4.00. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best pitchers in baseball, Justin Verlander, at the top anchoring the rotation. Sanchez, who as a rental, was acquired via trade that brought Omar Infate to Detroit while sending Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn to the Miami Marlins.
After a rough five first starts, Sanchez has really started to show his ability as a good pitcher. He is fresh off a three-hit complete game shutout. And at some point, he could replace Porcello in the rotation. Sanchez has proven he can win with the team behind him.
Smyly is a young south-paw that started off great this year. If the Tigers were to trade Porcello, Smyly could step up into his role and provide a left-handed starter that the Tigers has lacked for a while now.
Improve your team. There are a few spots on the roster the Tigers could improve on: a better defensive shortstop, a corner outfielder that can put up consistent numbers, and relief bullpen help. If a team would be willing to help out the Tigers with some off those needs in exchange for Porcello, it might be well worth the risk.
Tigers get an upgrade at one of those positions, and Porcello could get a better defense behind him and help out his career and numbers. It’s a win-win for both parties.
The Tigers have waited plenty long for Porcello to mature and develop, so it won’t be likely General Manager Dave Dombrowski would pull the trigger by trading him. But if the last three seasons haven’t been enough proof, Porcello is not the right fit for the kind of team Dombrowski has assembled. It may be time to cut ties.
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