Rick Porcello has looked nothing like the sensational rookie he was in 2009. The Detroit Tigers have decided now is the time to try and fix his game, as the club optioned the youngster to Triple-A Toledo. Porcello will start for the Mud Hens on Thursday and has no timetable for a return to the big leagues.
The move comes after Porcello got roughed up last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving up eight hits, five runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings of work in a 6-5 Tigers loss. Detroit had won seven in a row and had pulled within half a game of first-place Minnesota before the loss.
General Manager Dave Dombrowski said Porcello is being sent down to work on his sinker, considered his best pitch. But Dombrowski also wants to see Porcello return the pitcher that went 14-9 last season.
"Our goals are such to get him back to be the pitcher we know he can be," Tigers team president Dave Dombrowski said. "We need to get his sinker going and his slider improved. For us, we saw some improvement yesterday, but not to the point where we would like it to be. Our people that have worked with him have said he's thrown the ball very well in the bullpen. Now of course, we need to see that carry forward to the game. We know he has the ability."
With Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga holding down the top three spots in the rotation, Detroit needs quality starts from its other two starters, which have been Porcello and Max Scherzer for most of the year. Both guys are young and both have struggled this season, which is a big reason the Tigers have been unable to catch the Twins in the Central Division. Scherzer has already been sent to Toledo to work on velocity and control issues, and the Tigers are hoping a stint with the Mud Hens can turn Porcello's game around too.