Rick Porcello – the much maligned Rick Porcello – spun a gem for the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It takes no stretch of the imagination to see this game as the best of his career but, whether due to a lack of either The Will To Win or team run support (certainly the latter), he wasn’t able to record a victory.
Instead Rick will have to be comforted with the knowledge that his eight innings of three hit, one walk, eleven strikeout (a career high by far) ball was better than anyone could have hoped or asked for. He mixed his pitches effectively, he painted the corners, he generated swings-and-misses, and he induced a plethora of ground balls. In short, he was the Rick Porcello that everyone ever dreamed Rick Porcello could be.
Despite a poor outing his last time on the mound, Rick has nonetheless posted a 3.32 ERA and 8.8 K/9 rate in six starts since The Debacle In Los Angeles more than a month ago (3.13 ERA in the month of May). Probably not coincidentally, the Tigers are 4-2 as a team in those games. The string of high-strikeout games hasn’t yet turned Porcello’s season line into that of a strikeout artist, but he is, as of this moment, no longer the owner of the team’s lowest K-rate. That title now belongs to Doug Fister, who has struck out 18.7% of the batters he’s faced this season (to Porcello’s 19.0%).
Can he keep up the current rate of success? Who knows, but this month of May will likely finish as the best month of his career to-date (peripherals considered). It would be nice if he would be able to do this while owning a better-than-average season line, but for the first time since perhaps his rookie season we’re seeing signs that a ‘next-step’ might actually exist for him.