What if the Detroit Tigers still had Rick Porcello?
The former Tiger became the first pitcher to reach 20 wins this season and is having a magnificent year in Boston.
Not just 20 wins, but he also has the best strikeout to walk ratio in the league at 5.55.
His performance proves the potential that many of us saw ever since he took a big league mound, but of course, his best season didn’t come in Detroit.
While we all saw that potential, it seems every Tiger fan had a clear opinion of Porcello when he was in Detroit, and there were two polarizing groups.
The first group thought that Porcello was overrated and underachieving.
The second group thought that he was under appreciated and as a sinker-ball pitcher, suffered from Detroit’s poor defense for most of his time with the Tigers.
Which school of thought were you in?
Most fans have a definite position in that argument, which in itself always made me laugh. I mean, Porcellos is one of the quietest, most mild-mannered players in the game, and plenty of fans were on his case for years.
I was in the latter thought process. He was under appreciated and didn’t have the best defense behind him.
Porcello started in Detroit barely out of his teenage years, which many remember, but fewer have wrapped their heads around. Not only that, he went 14-9 as a rookie, somehow finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting and was chosen to start the tiebreaking 163rd game in the Metrodome against Minnesota as a 20-year old.
He was the youngest pitcher since Dwight Gooden to win five consecutive starts. And he was the first pitcher since Dwight Gooden to reach 50 wins as young as he did — while most players are still in the minors.
Through 2016, Porcello has pitched in the majors for eight years, earned double-digit wins in seven of those seasons, including his 20-win year so far this season, which puts him at 105 career wins. It has to be the quietest run to 100 wins of all time.
Porcello is quiet. His pitching style is quiet. He just gets the job done.
But now that is happening in Fenway Park instead of Comerica Park.
Porcello was traded, not because of ineffectiveness (he actually led the AL in shutouts his final year in Detroit) but because the Tigers needed a bat. So, Dave Dombrowski dealt him the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes.
On paper at the time, it seemed like a good deal since the Tigers still had Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price and Anibal Sanchez. They were loaded with starting pitching.
But Scherzer left in the offseason, Price was traded at the next deadline and the Tigers have been short of starting pitching ever since. So short that Mike Pelfrey and an injured Jordan Zimmermann have made crucial starts for the team this September.
Meanwhile, the Tigers had Cespedes for what seemed like 10 minutes (though they did get Michael Fulmer in return). Incredibly and unpredictably, Porcello is now the first Red Sox pitcher to go nine consecutive games of seven-plus innings while allowing three or fewer runs since Pedro Martinez in 2001.
And with the Tigers’ having so many injuries and question marks regarding the rotation the past two years, it is amazing they are still in postseason contention.
Maybe they would be in first place with Porcello. Who knows?