Each Monday, good or bad, we’ll look back at the biggest theme of the week that was for the Detroit Tigers.
After enjoying a great spring training, Rick Porcello’s excellent start has hit the skids as soon as the meaningful games began. Following his ugliest meltdown yet over the weekend, it’s time for Drew Smyly to temporarily replace him in the rotation.
Porcello, quite frankly, has looked shaky for some weeks. The first telltale sign of trouble came when the righty couldn’t keep his Detroit Tigers in the game during an afternoon contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. Though Brayan Villarreal and the bullpen was largely to blame for the collapse, Porcello started the fire by allowing the first three base runners of his final inning to reach.
At this point, the Tigers need to have a shorter leash with Porcello, the last man in the rotation. Performances like Saturday’s doozy, in which he gave up nine earned runs in the first inning, cannot continue to happen. It was the second ugliest start of Porcello’s career, the first coming against the Texas Rangers one year ago Saturday to the tune of a similar, eight earned run performance.
It’s no time to completely give up on Porcello of course, given he rebounded solidly after his roughest outing last season to never allow more than five earned runs in another start in 2012. This time around, though, Jim Leyland should temporarily switch Porcello’s role with that of Smyly, who mopped up admirably for him Saturday afternoon, allowing no runs and fanning seven in five innings pitched.
To allow Porcello a chance to reset a bit early in the season and regain his confidence, Leyland should slide him into Smyly’s long relief role. Porcello might be able to find a groove and rebound from his troubles from pitching a few series of scoreless innings much like Smyly has. This isn’t a football quarterback controversy; pitchers can slide in and out of roles without getting their feelings hurt, and Porcello and Smyly certainly look interchangeable. That was the point of keeping both heading into the season.
The worst possible outcome? Smyly pitches just as bad as Porcello has in the starting role and they’re swapped back. Something tells me that wouldn’t happen, though, and Smyly would give the Tigers the quality innings they need while Porcello straightens things out in mop up duty.
Following a few troubling performances and a very shaky looking start, something different should be explored to get Porcello rounded back into form before things get any worse.
Between a midweek game against the Seattle Mariners and Sunday afternoon’s extra inning loss to the Anaheim Angels, the Tigers played an astounding total of 13 innings of bonus baseball last week. That’s working an unusual amount of overtime. The people feeling it the most? Naturally the fans, being this was a west coast trip. Our Facebook feedback of the week centers around Detroit’s 2:38 a.m. win in Seattle.
Karen Landau Waldron: YAWN
I have to admit Karen, my eyes weren’t open past the 11th inning.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax