Porcello has plenty in his favor as he transitions to big leagues

Updated: April 20, 2009

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Rick Porcello earned the first win of his career by beating Seattle on Sunday.


Detroit's Rick Porcello got his first big league win Sunday with an impressive outing against Seattle. He's 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, though he'll probably put on another 20 pounds.

Right now, he barely fills out the uniform. I haven't seen a ton of him yet, but his changeup has some depth to it, and it looks as though it could be an out pitch for him at some point in the future. He also has decent velocity on his fastball and a sharp over-the-top curve.

The fact that he had not pitched above Class A before this season tells me he's a precocious big leaguer. By that, I mean he's advanced for his age. For his manager Jim Leyland to feel comfortable enough to put him out there at 20 years old and know that failure will not crush him tells me they think he's emotionally mature.

Leyland has always been a guy who has preferred talent over experience. He's not afraid of young players, even going back to his Pittsburgh days, when he played a young Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke. He has had more recent experience with young arms in Detroit. He has helped bring along the arms of guys such as Justin Verlander, Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya.

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Porcello got his first win Sunday, but what I liked most so far with the way Leyland has handled him is that he got him up the tunnel after five innings in his first start April 9 at Toronto. He took the loss, but when you are dealing with a young pitcher or even a veteran pitcher who is going through a slump, you want to protect his confidence. That's very important for pitchers. Anytime you can get them out of the game with a feeling that they didn't have a bad outing, it's a good thing. You want them to feel good about things, give them something to build on.

For a young pitcher, Porcello has rare command and confidence. Sometimes, young pitchers can be intimidated when facing major league lineups for the first time and they will try to avoid the bat. But he has shown that he's willing to let hitters make contact. In fact, Porcello has just one walk in 12 innings pitched this season. He is using the middle of plate and trusting his stuff instead of falling into the trap of trying to keep it on the black all the time.

Another thing that should help Porcello grow is pitching regularly at Comerica Park. His first two starts were on the road, but playing in a pitchers' park in Detroit should aid in his development. We've seen the Texas Rangers struggle with developing their young pitchers, and part of the reason for that is the ballpark they play in. Not only are their rookie pitchers coming up to the big leagues but, when they pitch in The Ballpark in Arlington, it's almost the big leagues-and-a-half because they are coming into an offensive park.

Not only do they have to prove they can be big leaguers, but they need to prove they can be big leaguers in a hitters' park. So when guys have the opportunity to come up and play half their games in a pitchers' park, there is definitely a benefit to that. All pitchers make mistakes, and young pitchers make more than their share. But they'll be able to get away with some of them now and then in a place like Comerica. That will help their confidence and, by extension, their overall development. Furthermore, most teams that play in pitchers' parks have solid defense, and the Tigers are no exception. With Curtis Granderson in center field, Placido Polanco at second base and Brandon Inge at third, the defense will be much better than the one he had in Triple-A. That should be another comfort factor for him.

Porcello has been compared to Josh Beckett, but I don't know whether that's fair. It's impossible to accurately forecast a major league career for such a young pitcher. Still, he's a guy I'll be keeping an eye on.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: April 19 | April 16 | April 15 | April 14 | April 13


Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
J. Varitek, Bos3BalHendricksonBot 2: 3-2, 0 Outs. None on.
N. McLouth, Pit4FlaKensingBot 6: 0-0, 1 Outs. 2 on.
L. Berkman, Hou3CinArroyoBot 6: 0-0, 2 Outs. None on.
C. Lee, Hou2CinArroyoBot 6: 0-1, 2 Outs. None on.
M. Reynolds, Ari3ColMarquisBot 2: 2-0, 0 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Monday's homers


White Sox at Orioles

The Orioles have decided it is time to see what Brad Bergesen can do in the majors. The 23-year-old, who was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the year a season ago, will make his major league debut Tuesday against the White Sox. The right-hander went a combined 16-7 with a 3.10 last season between Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. The fresh face will go against someone with a bit more experience; the White Sox will be throwing 37-year-old Jose Contreras

Rangers at Blue Jays

The Rangers have all kinds of weapons in their offense -- Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young. Can this group be the one to get to Roy Halladay? Halladay has won each of his three starts so far this year, posting a remarkable 17 strikeouts against just three walks. Opponents are hitting .238 against him. The Rangers do have some hope. Over their careers, Kinsler is hitting .313 against Halladay, Young .308 and Hamilton .286.

Dodgers at Astros

Not exactly the best timing for the Astros. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw is coming off a seven-inning, one-hit, 13-strikeout effort against San Francisco. The outing before that, he gave up one earned run against the Padres. The Astros, meanwhile, entered play Monday having scored the fewest runs of any team in baseball. Because they were in action Monday and most of baseball had the day off, they were able to climb out of the basement.

For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.



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Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at the Pirates' pitching staff. Ross Ohlendorf and a pair of relievers tossed a shutout Monday, handing the Marlins their second loss of the season. When they win, the Pittsburgh pitchers have been dominant:

Pirates pitchers (past seven games)
Wins Losses
Games 4 3
IP-ER 36-0 27-21
Hits 16 33
K-BB 18-9 14-14



Ross OhlendorfRoss Ohlendorf and the Pirates' bullpen did what few have done so far this season: They tamed the Florida Marlins. Ohlendorf, who allowed two hits over seven innings, and the bullpen combined for a shutout. Tyler Yates and Jesse Chavez finished the deal, each throwing a hitless inning.
Dustin PedroiaDustin Pedroia led a Red Sox attack against Baltimore pitching in Boston's 12-1 win. Pedroia, the reigning AL MVP, went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and three runs scored. In the four-game series against Baltimore, Pedroia went 12-for-18.
Radhames Liz• For Boston to score all those runs, somebody had to give them up, right? Well, the worst line from a box score loaded with them for the Orioles belonged to Radhames Liz. He recorded just one out and gave up three hits and six runs as his ERA rose to 67.50 this season.
Jason Marquis• After a good start to the season, Jason Marquis got hit hard in his third start of the year. The Rockies right-hander gave up nine hits and and all six Arizona runs in the Diamondbacks' 6-3 win. In his first two starts, he gave up 10 hits and three runs combined.


Seattle -- one of the surprise teams of 2009 -- opens a three-game series against AL pennant winner Tampa Bay -- the surprise team from 2008 -- on Tuesday. One of the key improvements in the first-place Mariners' 8-5 start is Jarrod Washburn. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA (he had just five wins all of last season). His success has come when getting ahead -- or staying even -- in the count.

Jarrod Washburn 2008 vs. 2009
2008 2009
W-L 5-14 2-0
ERA 4.69 1.29
BA against (1st pitch) .316 .000
Even .322 .091
Pitcher ahead .228 .158
Pitcher behind .360 .357

-- ESPN Stats & Information


Adam Morrison examines the 15 games on Tuesday's slate.

Fantasy Morrison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes