I guess this settles that debate. Second starter? Third starter? No. Rick Porcello is, in fact, the fourth starter. For the opening week anyway.
This goes to show the futility of trying to put rotation spots to starters. Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the rotation? Not really useful information when judging a pitcher. In reality, you have the aces, the good ones, the tolerable ones, the other ones and the bums. That's really the best way to categorize starters, isn't it? More good ones than bad ones and you're doing pretty good.
Justin Verlander is the ace. Max Scherzer and Porcello are the good ones. The rest? Well that remains to be seen.
Porcello is getting the honor he missed out on last season. As the No. 5 spot in the rotation at the start of last season a then 20-year-old Porcello was on schedule to start the home opener. That is a lot of pressure to put on a guy making his first major league start, so manager Jim Leyland switched things up. Leyland told the media he wanted Scherzer to make his first start for the Tigers on the road to help keep some pressure off the newcomer.
But honoring Porcello -- who made an incredible start in Game 163 after pitching fantastic down the stretch -- with the home opener is a nice thing to do, too. The kid is already loved by the fans. They'll really enjoy this, too.
It's a good move for everybody.
In case you're keeping track, the rotation currently looks like:
1: Verlander (RH)
2: Scherzer (RH)
4: Porcello (RH)
With Jeremy Bonderman likely serving a three-game
day suspension -- MLB.com's Jason Beck tweeted Bonderman did appeal it -- stemming from an incident against the Twins, you can probably pencil him at No. 5. Leyland isn't about to say he's made the rotation, however.
That leaves the winner of the final rotation spot -- LH Dontrelle Wilils, LH Nate Robertson, RH Armando Galarraga or LH Phil Coke -- as the likely starter for the third game of the year. (I like the idea of finding a left-handed starter even more, now.)
Unless there is a rain delay, the Tigers only have one off day in April, and that's after the ninth game of the season. Detroit then plays 20 consecutive days. So the early rotation might not have a lot of wiggle room to it.
In any case, that's what things look a month-plus from the season opener. Much is subject to change.