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Guest Week: Rick Porcello, The 24-Year Old Veteran

By Shawn Cote (@shawnykid23)
August 6, 2013

If you are like me, and looking with an eye toward the future in your dynasty league, now might be the time to scour around to find some under-valued players you can acquire for next year. One such guy that I have been targeting hard is Rick Porcello. He may have burned some of you in the past, but he appears to have turned a corner this year, and there may be even more to come. Keep in mind that even though he’s thrown at least 160 innings every year since 2009, he’s only 24 years old.

Porcello currently sports an uninspiring 4.28 ERA in 120 IP. However, if you take out two bad starts against the Angels, his ERA drops to 3.18.  His xFIP is 3.27, which shows he may be a bit unlucky to have the ERA he does so far this year.  When digging deeper and looking at Porcello’s peripherals, two stats really jump out this year which help explain the gains he’s made.

The first is he’s walking fewer batters and striking out more batters this year than ever before, leading to K/BB ratio of 3.52, which is 26th in baseball. And while his K% might be slightly below league-average at 17.8%, there seems to be more room for growth as each year his K% has trended upward since 2010, and he’s shown he can get strikeouts as evidenced by an 11K performance he had earlier in the year. He also has a career low BB% of 5.1%. There appears to be a real reason behind the gains as well, as he seems to have scrapped his slider in favor of a much more effective curveball. He’s also increased the usage of his change-up this year by about 3%. The second stat that jumps out is Porcello’s ground-ball rate of 57.2%, which is the highest of his career and 2nd in all of baseball. It’s hard to give up home runs if batters can’t get the ball in the air.

Something important to mention in regard to Porcello’s high ground-ball rate is the addition of the slick-fielding SS/3B Jose Iglesias by the Tigers. He seems to be the heir to Jhonny Peralta who is a free agent at the end of the season.  Now no one is going to confuse the Tiger’s infield defense with that of the Rays, but any time you can add a shortstop whose glove has been described as “pornographic,” it is going to be a dream-move for a ground-ball pitcher. Keep in mind, also, that Detroit resides in one of baseball’s weakest divisions. As bright as the future is for the Twins, they are probably still a few years away from being truly competitive. The White Sox have one of the MLB’s worst offenses, and don’t appear to have much help on the way. The Royals have played much better recently, but are prone to slumping, given they are a young team. So even though wins are difficult to bank on and random in nature, Porcello should be able to get his fair share against the teams of the AL Central.

Rick Porcello is a potential SP 3/4 that should be very easy to acquire right now based on his inflated ERA and the fact that he’s his team’s 5th starter. He may be on the waiver-wire in your league (he’s only owned in 22% of Yahoo! Leagues), but if not, shouldn’t cost too much to acquire. He’s a great low-risk option that could return some major value for years to come.

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