Tigers starter Rick Porcello was in the MLB Network Studios on Thursday to talk with Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds and Matt Yallof from Hot Stove. They were kind enough to pass everything on to me for anyone who didn't catch Porcello's appearance. I'll embed the videos after the jump but review a few high points a bit first.
Porcello talked a bit about his mechanics, and about his preparation for the 2012 season. But I'm sure the highlight for many people will come around the 3:30 minute mark in the video, where he discusses the takedown of Boston's Kevin Youkalis during his rookie season.
Porcello told them:
(Laird) was pretty much ragging me for the rest of the year after that. A couple other guys were getting on me a little bit and said some funny stuff. The team had my back.
The other interesting discussion was about the 2010 season. Expectations were high after Porcello's rookie-season numbers. He had 14 wins and a 3.96 ERA. His month of May was fabulous and had Porcello's name used in comparisons with Doc Gooden. His poised start in Game 163 made you dream of the future. Of course, a deeper look in the statistics showed an FIP of 4.77 and strikeout figures that were not terrific. He also benefited from a good defense, especially in the infield. Say what you will about "Opie" Adam Everett, but he played intelligent defense.
So when Porcello's ERA came in at 4.92 in 2010, people began to doubt. Some of that was regression -- not just to the mean, but way past it in the wrong direction. His FIP actually improved to 4.31. But another big part of it was growing pains on Porcello's end of things, which he discussed.
I kind of was just up there throwing the ball and didn't know much of anything, and now I kind of learned hitters a little bit more and how to approach guys.
I think a lot of it had to do with my arm angle and some mechanical stuff and then it kind of turned into a mental thing. That was definitely a little speed bump that I had to overcome. I feel like I've got it back now and I know the adjustments I need to make to get back on track in case I do have something like that occur for a game or so that I know my sinker is a little off or the movement is not there or the velocity is not there. It's just things that I guess I'm learning through experience.
Even though Porcello's ERA was 4.77 in 2011, I think he did show signs of improvement. His K/9 was the best of his career. The walks per nine innings remained steady in the lows 2s. He suffered a bit in BABIP, but showed an improvement in his ground ball rate to 51.4%. So both his FIP (4.06) and xFIP (4.02) were career highs. His quality start percentage (61%) was a career-best, too. They're still not necessarily top of the rotation numbers, but they show Porcello is moving in the right direction and you should expect his traditional stats to follow.
Here's Porcello's appearance on Diamond Demo:
Finally, talking about his preparation for the 2012 season, Porcello told them:
It's always tough finding an indoor place that's available during the winter time here. Everybody is trying to get inside and stay active. ... We were able to find a place this year and work out at the gym. ... It's not too far away so I can get my throwing in.
I'll go down earlier and get off the dirt mound and be able to get outside and stretch it out a little bit more. Probably at the end of January, I'll head down there and start working out in Lakeland.
There's plenty in the 6 minute video from Hot Stove I didn't cover, so give it a watch, too.