Last week, I wrote about how the Detroit Tigers’ playoff rotation should look. The one starter who was not listed was Rick Porcello. Porcello has pitched very well in the last couple of weeks. In his last three starts, Porcello has an ERA of 1.66 with a WHIP of 0.969 and a K/BB rate of 8.00. He knows that he is pitching for a spot on the playoff roster and is still trying to get into the rotation.
As well as he has pitched lately, Porcello is not going to be in the playoff rotation. Porcello belongs at the front end of the Tigers’ bullpen. I know every pitcher is different, but we have seen what can happen when a starter goes from the rotation to the bullpen this year with Drew Smyly and last postseason with Tim Lincecum. No, I am not saying the Porcello is on the same level as a pitcher who has won two Cy Young Awards, but Porcello can go to the bullpen and pitch the way Lincecum did last postseason.
Porcello should be used in place of Al Albuquerque, Luke Putkonen, and the pitcher that the Tigers decide to be their LOOGY. Outside of one of the worst innings in the history of baseball at the Los Angeles Angels where he pitched 0.2 innings surrendering 9 ER on 9 hits and a walk, Porcello has pitched 28 innings and has surrendered 7 ER on 23 hits, 7 walks, and 18 K’s. Those numbers are good for a WHIP of 1.07 and an ERA of 2.74. Over his first three innings outside of that one start, Porcello has an ERA of 3.32 with a WHIP of 1.13.
These numbers support a move for Porcello to the bullpen. He can be used in shorter spurts which means that he can throw harder earlier on because he does not have to save his arm for the later innings. Porcello can be a weapon out of the bullpen for the Tigers, especially against righties who have a .238/.264/.334 split this year against him. Porcello has one scheduled start remaining against the Miami Marlins. If the Tigers have no hope of catching the Oakland A’s at that point, they should probably skip Porcello and start to get him acclimated to the bullpen and his new role.