Rick Porcello: Why Tigers Fans Should Keep Faith in Young Hurler

James MorisetteCorrespondent IIIFebruary 7, 2013

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 27: Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 27, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Detroit Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello's big league career has been a model of inconsistency thus far.

Yet despite Porcello’s struggles and subsequent trade rumors, Tigers fans should keep the faith in the underachieving New Jersey native.

Looking back, Porcello was a first-round pick (27th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He made for a solid addition to a Tigers farm system already stockpiled with live arms.

After spending just one full season in the minor leagues, Porcello made his MLB debut in 2009.

That season Porcello looked like a future ace. In 31 starts, he posted a 14-9 record with a 3.96 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 170.2 innings pitched.

Consequently, Porcello silenced fans critical of the Tigers signing him to a four-year $7 million contract in 2007.

But since his rookie campaign, Porcello has muddled along somewhat. Since 2010, he has gone 34-33 with a 4.75 ERA.

In the process, critics have reemerged with a vengeance, wondering if Porcello has the skill and will to take that next step.

Yet when critics point to Porcello’s underachieving career stats, they tend to omit one important fact: Porcello just turned 24 late last December.


To Tigers fans, it seems Porcello has been around forever. Yet this workhorse has just four MLB seasons under his belt. In this time, Porcello has essentially learned to pitch on the fly at the major league level.

Perhaps critics are correct to say Porcello should have spent more time in the minor leagues to gain seasoning. But looking at the present, Porcello has pitched fairly well in spite of events.

And while it is true Porcello’s career 4.55 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 120 starts is not overly impressive, he still has 48 wins to his name.   

Per Baseball-Reference, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and Steve Avery reached 48 wins when they were just 23 years old. Greg Maddux earned the same number of victories when he was 24.

New York Mets fireballer Dwight Gooden beat all the aforesaid, reaching 48 wins when he was just 21.

Another positive: While Porcello has been forced to learn on the fly, he has pitched for a winning baseball team.

This can only help Porcello become more battle-hardened as his MLB career marches forward.

While the jury is still out regarding whether Porcello will ever reach his true potential, he still has a high ceiling. Still very young, Porcello also has experience many big league pitchers his age do not.

Should Porcello have a bust-out season, he may very well begin to silence critics. More critically, Tigers fans may very well find Porcello has potential to be a major component for this team for years to come.

Whether Porcello does this or not, it is things like this that will make the 2013 season a fun campaign to watch.