Trade rumors have swirled about Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello for some time -- look at them swirl! -- but for now Porcello has locked up the job as Detroit's fifth starter, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. In a related matter, Drew Smyly will now be deployed out of the Tiger bullpen.
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The 24-year-old Porcello, the Tigers' first-round pick in 2007, has long wowed scouts, but the results haven't been there (career ERA+ of 93; 4.59 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and 2.43 K/BB ratio last season). Still, it would be awfully premature to "sell low" on Porcello at this stage. On another level, the bar for fifth starters isn't terribly high, and Porcello is more than capable of passing muster by those standards. That, of course, is to say nothing of his upside.
And speaking of his upside, Porcello's broad-based increase in velocity last season might just portend better days ahead:
(FA - four-seam fastball; SI - sinker; SL - slider; CU - curve; CH - changeup ... image courtesy of the most excellent BrooksBaseball.net)
Detroit, of course, boasts an enviable front four with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister in the fold. If Porcello comes close to realizing his potential in 2013, then the Tigers might boast a rotation for the ages.