Without Washburn, Rick Porcello is the major key in the Rotation down the Stretch

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For Rick Porcello, It’s is all happening so fast. One minute he’s throwing a no hitter in high school. The next he is on the biggest stage possible, performing at a rookie of the year pace and is now being asked to play major role in a rotation that is trying to fend off it’s opponents. Like firefighters battling wildfires, The big blazes can only be contained by the rotation down the stretch. No matter how much the veteran hitters begin to step it up, we all know that you can’t feed the fire with more fire. You can’t cool down the hot pepper with a glass of nacho cheese.

With thirteen more games in the 2009, Rick Porcello has to be an overflowing fire hydrant in his final two starts. The Pressure can’t get to him. All he can do is go out there and bring his A game. All he can do is fight the fire.

So far in 2009, the youngster has been able to do that when asked upon. His limited innings have produced just as many wins as Edwin Jackson. At the same time he has allowed more hits than innings pitched. His strikeout ratio isn’t what many scouts thought it would be coming into his rookie season. He hasn’t pitched a shut out. He might not even be the best option as the number three starter if the Tigers make the playoffs.

But without a doubt, he keeps Detroit in ball games, and body slams opposing hitters when need be. Tonight will be key in the journey to the playoffs. Porcello is on the mound against the team he opened his professional career against. Against this young lineup, his control won’t have to be perfect. His fastball doesn’t have to blaze by hitters. All he has to do is pitch smart and aggressive, allow the young Cleveland hitters to get into short counts, and keep the Tigers in the ballgame.

In short terms, he has to be the pitcher he has been all year.

The pressure is on, and like the playoffs, all the games from here on out are of the “must win” variety. Edwin Jackson and Justin Verlander have been horses all year. Nate Robertson is coming around at just the right time. Eddie Bonine is a talented enough pitcher to help us out in the rotation until the playoffs roll around. Rick Porcello is the x factor. The one pitcher that needs to step us his game. It starts tonight. Can Rick Porcello compete under pressure? Can he win the big games? Well Folks, it looks like we find out tonight.

My faith is in the rookie. He has the fire and flare of a veteran looking for one last title. He has the stuff on the mound to put out the fire of opposing offenses. Now it’s time to put it all together and finish what Rick Porcello started in May.

A 2009 Rookie of the Year campaign.

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