The acquisition of David Price gave the Detroit Tigers a collection of former Cy Young Award winners in their rotation, but it’s been the consistent Rick Porcello who quietly is having the best season of his career.
Porcello looks to tie for the major league lead in wins Saturday night as the first-place Tigers look to take the first two of this three-game set with the visiting Colorado Rockies.
With Price joining Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in the rotation, Detroit (59-47) possesses the last three AL Cy Young winners.
Porcello, however, hasn’t looked anything like merely a No. 4 starter this season. Since allowing seven runs in a loss to Tampa Bay on July 6, Porcello (12-5, 3.24 ERA) has gone 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts while pitching seven innings in each.
He gave up an unearned run and struck out six Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels before the Tigers fell 2-1. The run scored when the only man Porcello allowed to reach second base scored on his errant pickoff attempt, leading to Detroit’s first loss in 12 games in which the right-hander allowed fewer than three runs.
Porcello will get his first look at Colorado since June 17, 2011, when he allowed a career worst-tying nine runs in a 13-6 road loss.
The Rockies (44-65) may have some trouble coming close to that run total this time. They’ve averaged just 2.6 runs during the first five of a seven-game road trip after falling 4-2 to the Tigers on Friday.
Potentially making matters worse, Carlos Gonzalez left after making a highlight-reel grab in foul ground to end the fifth inning, aggravating a sprained right ankle. He’s played in 14 games after missing 35 with a left index finger injury, and his status for this contest is unclear.
Colorado, which has lost five of six overall, has the worst record in the NL and will send Tyler Matzek to the mound.
Matzek (2-5, 4.39) was scheduled to start Thursday against the Chicago Cubs, but he was pushed back after giving up the winning run in the 16th inning of a 4-3 loss to the Cubs in Tuesday’s marathon.
"I think I’m fine – an extra bullpen (session) between starts for me," Matzek told MLB’s official website. "I’ve always been really durable. It felt fine that night and it feels fine now."
The left-hander had the best outing of his rookie season in his most recent start, giving up three hits in seven scoreless innings of an 8-1 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
He’ll face a Detroit team coming off just its second victory in its last seven games as Rajai Davis, who played center field after Austin Jackson was traded to Seattle in the three-team Price trade, had a two-run single in the fifth. He drove in one run in his previous 13 contests.
With the game scoreless in the fifth and the Tigers having runners on second and third with one out, Rockies manager Walt Weiss gambled and brought the infield in.
"We can’t play it safe. We’re going to roll the dice," Weiss said. "In the position we’re in, we’re going to go for it. Davis found a hole. I’d do it again every time."