The Tigers on Sunday made the decision to option struggling right-handed starter Rick Porcello to Triple-A Toledo, according to the club’s official Twitter feed.
Fellow Detroit starter Max Scherzer met the same fate in mid-May and that has certainly worked out well. The 25-year-old former Mizzou Tiger and Diamondback regained his confidence against the lesser competition found at the Triple-A ranks and has racked up 33 strikeouts in 24 innings since being called back to the majors.
The Tigers will hope that the younger Porcello can match that success, or at least come close.
Porcello, 21, was drafted 27th overall in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft and posted a 3.96 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and a 14-9 record in 2009, finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting behind A’s closer Andrew Bailey and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. He was optioned to Toledo on Sunday with a 6.14 ERA, a 1.69 WHIP and a 4-7 win-loss record.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.