Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello's 2013 statistics don't begin to tell the whole story of how valuable he is to the rotation. Porcello is showing his maturity on the mound and could be a mainstay in the Tigers' rotation for years to come.
It would be smart to ignore Porcello's pitching statistics, since they are terrible on the surface. In 2013 he has a 2-2 record in 51 innings pitched with a bloated 5.29 ERA, which is the worst of his career.
However, take away Porcello's April 20 start against the Los Angeles Angels (0.2 innings pitched, nine earned runs) and his May 23 start against the Minnesota Twins (5.0 innings pitched, five earned runs), and his 2013 ERA is a very respectable 3.18. Even more impressive is that in Porcello's other eight appearances, he has also held batters to an incredible .217 batting average. That would be good for eighth in the AL.
The key is for Porcello to limit his bad performances. But with his improvements from 2012, no one should bet against him.
Taking a deeper look at Porcello's overall statistics in 2013, he is showing signs of being a very solid No. 3 or No. 4 pitcher in the future. The biggest difference in Porcello's pitching is that he is mastering his control. He currently has a career low in walks per nine innings with a 1.8 ratio and a career high in strikeouts per nine innings with a 7.1 ratio. He also has the lowest WHIP of his career with a 1.27.
With greater command, he has improved his efficiency, which has allowed him to pitch deeper into games.
Porcello's strong improvement was on display during the game on May 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In that game, Porcello went eight innings allowing three hits, no earned runs, one walk and 12 strikeouts. The Tigers went on to lose the game 1-0 in 11 innings. However, if Porcello continues to pitch with the control he displayed, then he'll give the Tigers a chance to win every time he's on the mound.
Incredibly, it at one time appeared that Porcello wouldn't even be pitching in a Tigers uniform this season. All throughout the offseason there was speculation that Porcello was going to be traded for either a veteran closer or a defensive shortstop, but wisely the Tigers didn't trade him.
Now at 24 years old, Porcello looks to finally have learned how to pitch and not just throw. With the Tigers' No. 2 pitcher Max Scherzer scheduled to become a free agent after the 2014 season, the Tigers can be confident about having an in-house replacement in Porcello if they chose not to re-sign Scherzer.
Regardless of what happens with Porcello's development, fans need to appreciate that Porcello is not the same pitcher he's been the past few years. His best years are still ahead of him, hopefully spent in a Tigers uniform.
*All statistics are accurate as of May 30.