The Curious Case of Rick Porcello

For any Tigers fan, 2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year.  This team is coming off of back to back AL Central titles and an appearance in the World Series and the team is set to be even better than 2012.

There are a few question marks however, starting with the infield defense and continuing into the back end of the bull pen.  Trading out Jhonny Peralta for a better defensive SS would be nice, but not detrimental if Peralta is still the SS in September.  Finding a solid closer would also be very important but shouldn’t be something that prevents them from winning the AL Central again.

Bruce Rondon has had control issues so far this spring, but Phil Coke stepped in during the Playoffs after Jose Valverde completed his meltdown.  Al Albuquerque has the stuff to be a closer, Octavio Dotel has closed before, as has Joaquin Benoit and Brayan Villareal had quite a season last year.  They could try to name a closer if Rondon continues to struggle or go with a “by committee” option and will probably be just fine.

Then there is the battle for the 5th starter spot between Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly.  This is a good position to be in.  Both have the potential to be solid starters in the future and both could hold down spots in the rotation in the coming years.  However, right now, one is rumored to be expendable.  That one is Rick Porcello.

Rick Porcello is just 24 years old with 4 years of MLB service.  He has had his struggles and many think he is as good as he is ever going to be right now.  Most pitchers are just making MLB debuts in their year 24 season, not Porcello, he didn’t have time to develop in the minors and had to develop in front of 40K fans per night.

Porcello is not a strike out pitcher and needs his defense to win games, his xFIP puts him in the “above average” range of all pitchers in baseball, at the age of 24, if it wasn’t for his lack of defense behind him he’d be viewed very differently by fans.

Rick Porcello is a valuable commodity right now.  In the right situation, with a good defense behind him, he could be a VERY good pitcher, but what he brings the Tigers is something that most teams don’t have, Starting Rotation protection.  Max Scherzer and Doug Fister both spent time on the DL last year, Fister twice.  Smyly filling in for an injured pitcher is a much better option than Dwane Below or Casey Crosby.

Many teams are interested in Rick Porcello, and rightly so, but unless Porcello is the centerpiece of a trade bringing in a major upgrade somewhere (*Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus from Texas*) then it doesn’t make sense to trade him.  No team is willing to part with their top grade closer, and the shelf life of closers not named Mariano Rivera are pretty short so that would just put the Tigers more into the “Win Now” hole.

So the Tigers should not be looking to trade Rick Porcello and should consider themselves lucky at the great starting rotation they have including Porcello and Smyly both.

 

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