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Rick Porcello: Post-hype breakout?

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

When a player is entering his fourth big-league season, he feels like a seasoned veteran. So it's easy to forget that Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello is only 23 years old. He entered the Tigers' rotation with tons of hype and upside in 2009 as a 20 year old. He was good enough that season to finish third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Two mediocre seasons later and he's been somewhat forgotten, but that appears to be on the verge of changing.

After shutting down the red-hot White Sox Sunday, Porcello now has a 1.84 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and eight strikeouts with only one walk in 14 2/3 innings pitched.

Last season, Porcello was 14-9 with a 4.75 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. The record looks fine because he was playing on a great team. Individually speaking, though, Porcello wasn't very good. Again, we have to remember he's still only 23 and he was in the majors after just one year of minor-league seasoning. Plus, advanced metric FIP (4.06) showed Porcello was much better than his ERA looked in 2011.

Porcello's improvement became even more necessary when Doug Fister went down with an injury. And if the first two starts this season are any indication, Porcello is ready to step up his game and help fill the void with a breakout season. Obviously time will tell if it continues, but he's off to a stellar start.

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