The Detroit Tigers have arguably had the MLB’s best starting rotation over the last two seasons, however, many expected the starting staff’s production to take a major hit with the departure of Doug Fister.
There’s no doubting that the Tigers have the best top-three starters across the league, but there were uncertainties about the back end of the rotation.
Thanks to Rick Porcello, that has not been the case thus far in 2014.
In eight starts, Porcello has a 7-1 record, with an ERA of 2.91, and has recorded 33 strikeouts. He is on pace to post career-bests in wins, ERA, opponent average, and WHIP.
Even with two former Cy Young winners on Detroit’s starting staff, Porcello could easily be seen as the Tigers’ most dominant pitcher at this point in the season.
He leads Tigers starting pitchers in wins, WHIP (walks + hits, per inning pitched), win percentage, and strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
Porcello’s success this season has provided the Tigers with four pitchers that are capable of being top-of-the rotation starters, causing opponents to face at least two of the league’s best pitchers in any given series.
There are many notable differences when comparing the Tigers of 2013 with this team of 2014, but the dominance of the starting rotation has not been one of them.
If Detroit does in deed make the playoffs, having a fourth starter in the rotation that is capable of shutting down an opposing team on any day can be the driving force behind a World Series Championship.
Porcello hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in six of his eight starts this season, including each of his last four starts.
In his previous four starts, Porcello has pitched 27.2 innings, striking out 17 batters, and allowing just six earned runs. His strikeouts-to-walks ratio is greater than six over that stretch.
In the early stages of his career Porcello relied on ground balls to get batters out, averaging more than 1.5 ground outs per every fly out. In 2014 Porcello has brought that average down to 1.07, which has contributed to decreasing the number of hits he allows per nine innings pitched.
Porcello’s hits allowed per nine innings pitched was 9.3 in 2009, the lowest of his career. So far in 2014, he has allowed just 7.9 per nine innings.
The 25-year-old is set to have the best season of his career, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time than the season immediately following the offseason that Fister was sent to the Washington Nationals.
The Tigers right-hander will look to continue his success against the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
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