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The Tigers Need Porcello

Blake VandeBunteContributor ISeptember 10, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 23:  Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers pitches gainst the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on August 23, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Quick show of hands (sort of), how many people out there thought that Rick Porcello would be this good this soon? 

I was cautiously optimistic, but the guy has been so, so impressive. 

Today on ESPN.com, Jerry Crasnick breaks down the best young arms in the game who will get a lot of rest as the regular season winds to a close. 

Porcello ranks second on the list right behind Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, pretty impressive company right there.

Here’s Crasnick’s take:

Manager Jim Leyland and pitching coach Rick Knapp vowed to keep a close watch on Porcello when the Tigers broke camp, and they were true to their word. Porcello threw fewer than 90 pitches in 10 of his first 11 starts, then took a 16-day break during the All-Star break to recharge.

The Tigers gave Porcello two mandates entering the season: They wanted him to become more knowledgeable of his pitching mechanics and develop a reliable breaking ball. Porcello is an adept student, and he took a step forward when he shelved his curveball and settled on a slider.

Porcello is currently 12-8 and has an ERA in the low 4.00s. 

The Tigers picked up Jarrod Washburn to be their third starter, but since that trade, Porcello has clearly out-pitched Washburn. 

Here’s a quick look at Porcello’s pitch counts this season.  Just a great job by the Tigers.

  • 89, 86, 85, 75, 87, 95, 86, 86, 82, 84, 84, 99, 97, 97, 78, 90, 86, 98, 91, 85, 15 (ejected), 93, 92, 104, 80, 82
  • He’s also pitched on more than four days rest in 12 of his starts.  Not too shabby.
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