Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is going to have to do some shuffling in his rotation.
According to Major League Baseball's public relations Twitter feed, Tigers starter Rick Porcello has been suspended for six games and fined for throwing at Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist on Sunday:
The six-game suspension essentially equivalent to one turn in Detroit's rotation.
Porcello hit Zobrist with a fastball with two outs in the first inning of their three-game series finale on Sunday. Home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza warned both benches following the play, and Zobrist walked to first without incident, per Chris Iott of MLive.com.
The pitch from Porcello was presumably retaliation for Rays reliever Fernando Rodney hitting reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera in the 10th inning of Saturday night's contest. By all accounts Rodney was not purposefully trying to hit Cabrera. But the pitch went high and tight on the Triple Crown-winner's head, leaving Leyland fuming after the game, per USA Today's John Lowe.
"To throw up there in that area (the head) is not acceptable," said Leyland. "Somebody pays a price for that throughout baseball. That's the way baseball is. That's not free. There's no free lunch."
Following Porcello's beaning of Zobrist, Rays manager Joe Maddon was feeling equally frustrated by the Tigers' decision to plunk his versatile star, per the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin:
The commissioner's office obviously saw it as a retaliatory measure and took action. No one involved with the decision has released a full statement beyond the public relations statement at this time.
The 24-year-old Porcello has served as a consistent vestige at the back of the Tigers' rotation throughout is major league career but has struggled in 2013. He's 4-6 with a 5.21 ERA and 1.29 WHIP on the season, having gotten losses in each of his past three starts.
Porcello's struggles have fallen in line with a nose-dive of sorts from Detroit. The Tigers are 3-7 over their past 10 games heading into their contest against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night, a stretch that has seen them lose the lead in the AL Central. Detroit is 0.5 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians.
There is no word on how Leyland will choose to replace Porcello in the rotation. The Tigers do not have another off day until the All-Star break, so Detroit's rotation cannot be reconfigured around a scheduling quirk. The Tigers Twitter feed confirmed that Anibal Sanchez will be returning to the team on Saturday, which should help solve the problem:
Jose Alvarez, who had taken Sanchez's spot in the rotation while he was on the disabled list, would then likely get one more start before being sent down to the minor leagues or being moved to the bullpen.
Neither the Tigers nor Porcello have released an official statement on the matter at this time.
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