Has Rick Porcello turned a corner?

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Rick Porcello had to battle just to keep his rotation spot this spring, but he’s currently showing some signs of a breakthrough.

Porcello allowed three hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings last night in a 3-0 victory over the Twins. While he still holds a mediocre 4.37 ERA for the year, he has a 2.84 ERA and 56/10 K/BB ratio in 57 innings over his last nine starts.

As Neil Weinberg of New English D points out, Porcello’s success goes well beyond ERA. The 24-year-old currently has career-bests in strikeout rate (7.59 K/9), walk rate (1.59 BB/9) and ground ball rate (56 percent). It makes for a pretty valuable combination.

He’s striking out more than 7 batters per 9, walking fewer than 2 batters per 9 and has a groundball rate above 50%. From 2000-2012, here is the list of pitchers who have finished a season with that mix: Halladay (4x), Carpenter (3x), and Hamels (1x). In 2013, the pitchers on that list are Felix Hernandez, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello. That is some excellent company.

If we push the limits farther, to 7.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 55% GB (which Porcello has) the list of pitchers since 2000 to accomplish that feat drops to zero. Nobody. We don’t have groundball data from before the early 2000s, so I can’t tell you how rare this is in MLB history, but since the data became available, it’s never been done.

Very interesting. While it’s easy to write this off as a hot streak given Porcello’s past results, it’s important to note that he has altered his pitching mix, adding in more curveballs and changeups than ever before. If he has truly taken a step forward as a pitcher, the Tigers’ rotation could be more dangerous than we already thought.

Padres, Rockies set new modern era record with 92 combined runs in four-game series

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The Padres and Rockies combined to score 92 runs across a four-game series between Thursday and Sunday at Coors Field, setting a new modern era major league record. The previous record was 89 combined runs scored by the Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers in four games between May 16-18, 1929.

The Rockies won Thursday’s game 9-6. The Padres scored six runs in the ninth inning on Tuesday to overcome an 11-5 deficit and ended up winning 16-12 in 12 innings. The Rockies won 14-8 on Saturday. On Sunday, the Rockies brought a 13-10 lead into the ninth inning, but Wade Davis and Jon Gray combined to allow four runs. Kirby Yates held the Rockies scoreless in the bottom half of the ninth to secure the 14-13 win for the Padres. Thanks to two wild comebacks by the Padres, they split the series.

Along with 92 runs, the Padres and Rockies combined for 131 hits of which 17 were home runs. Charlie Blackmon had four hits in the first three games and three hits on Sunday, overall going 15-for-24 with four homers and 10 RBI.