On Sun. March 10, Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello had another strong spring training performance against the Washington Nationals. Porcello threw five shutout innings, did not allow a walk and struck out four batters. Porcello, who has been the subject of trade rumors, is showing the Tigers what a mistake it would be to deal him.
Porcello already has 48 career wins, but has been rumored to be on the block ever since the Tigers re-signed pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Part of the reason why he was available was his inconsistency in throwing an effective breaking ball. So far in spring training, he's put that worry to bed by improving his control.
Porcello spoke about the success he's had in spring training with Chris Iott at MLive.com:
"More importantly, I feel good," Porcello said. "Everything's coming out of my hand good. I have command of all of my pitches right now. I've got to keep working on getting ahead of guys, locating the fastball down in the zone and that sort of thing."
Porcello then took time to address the Tigers' biggest concern:
"The command that I have with my off-speed pitches right now is definitely a lot farther along than I have been in previous springs," Porcello said. "That's definitely a good sign. I've been working on that stuff a lot and I need to continue to work on it."
With his latest outing, Porcello has raised his strikeout total to 14 and still hasn't allowed a walk. While the Tigers will probably get a huge offer from a pitching-hungry team, they would be making a huge error if they traded away Porcello.
The problem with Porcello was that he experienced so much success during his rookie year in 2009, that it was assumed he would only get better. He had a 14-9 record and a 3.96 earned run average that year. Since then, he has taken a step back and needed to find an effective off-speed pitch to keep hitters off-balance.
It always seems that fans and the media tend to forget that Porcello is 24 years old and still learning how to pitch instead of just throwing the ball. He's one of the youngest members of the pitching staff and could be a part of it for seasons to come.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has noticed the improvement with Porcello during spring training and spoke about him on March 10 (via Iott):
"All his pitches are better right now," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said prior to the game. "Fastball's better. Changeup's better. So is the breaking ball. The breaking ball's been very good this spring."
Leyland continues to praise Porcello over his great spring and sounds like a manager who wants him in his rotation:
"This year, he's throwing his sinker with actually good velocity and it's sinking," Leyland said. "Sometimes when you try to throw it too hard it doesn't sink. He's got that velocity back with it and it's sinking. That's a pretty good combination. He looks really good."
If the Tigers trade Porcello, they would be giving up a pitcher younger than prospects that haven't even reached the majors yet.
Some fans may feel that Porcello's value will never grow higher, and that the Tigers need to take advantage and trade him now. But as Porcello has shown in spring training, never bet against him.
*All statistics are as of March 10
**All statistics are from baseball-reference.com