With a job in the rotation up for grabs, the leading incumbents have struggled. Dontrelle Willis has taken a step forward from his struggles last year, but it hasn’t been a big enough step to warrant a rotation spot. Nate Robertson, who I expected to pitch better this year, simply hasn’t. But Rick Porcello? The longshot? He spun 3 scoreless innings where he did allow 5 hits, but none for extra bases and no walks. We’re still almost a month away from Opening Day, but is it time for the 20 year old?
The most compelling argument to keep Porcello in the minors relates to workload and stamina. In his only professional season he was kept to a hard 75 pitch limit in each of his starts. He also amassed only 125 innings. I say only not because that was too few, but it is less than where he’d need to be. So there is work to do in building stamina.
But the stamina/workload issue might also be the most compelling reason to bring him North right away. If you are of the belief he has multiple major-league-ready pitches right now (which many scouts do), why not take advantage of them early in the season? Why wait until he is closer to his seasonal inning limit later in the year. Why not get what you can from the kid to start the season?
Yes he is all of 20 years old, but poise and maturity don’t seem to be an issue for him.
There are of course economic reasons to keep him in the minors. Two of those are the contracts to Robertson and Willis. A third is the contract to Porcello himself. “Rushing” him and ruining him would be quite the blow given the bonus he received. Plus it accelerates his service time.
The Tigers (and every other team in the Central) are in contention for the division. If Porcello is going to pitch for the club this year, I’d rather it be in April than August. There are reasons to keep him in the minors. But it should only come down to 5 reasons – and those would be the 5 guys who prove themselves to be better options in the rotation. So far, and things could change in the next 4 weeks, those 5 reasons haven’t become apparent.