Porcello among five AL Final Vote hopefuls
Balloting for league's last roster spot concludes Thursday at 4 p.m. ET
DETROIT -- Back-to-back shutouts and a 25-inning scoreless streak weren't enough to earn Rick Porcello the players' vote onto this year's All-Star team. He's going to need a friendlier reception at the ballot than the Rays gave him at the plate to get there.
While the Tigers put three players on this year's American League All-Star team, Porcello became the latest Tiger added onto the All-Star Final Vote. He'll vie with fellow AL starting pitchers Dallas Keuchel (Astros), Corey Kluber (Indians), Garrett Richards (Angels) and Chris Sale (White Sox) for a guaranteed spot on the roster as balloting is underway for the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian.
"I'm very happy for my teammates that have made the team, and I'm honored to be included in the Final Vote," Porcello said. "Lots of good pitchers out there. It doesn't take anything away from how well I've pitched in the first half."
"Certainly, not indicative of the type of pitcher Rick is," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after the Tigers' 7-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday. "His last couple starts were outstanding. It just so happened that, timing-wise, it wasn't great for him, but he certainly deserves to be an All-Star."
Teammate Torii Hunter was hoping fans looked at the entire body of work and the impact on the team.
"If not for him, we might not be in first place," Hunter said. "So Rick has done a lot for this ballclub. He's still deserving to go to the All-Star Game."
He'll at least have some votes in Chicago. The Tigers, trying to recreate the AL-NL tandem package that helped get Brandon Inge into the All-Star Game in 2009, teamed up with the Cubs to encourage fans to vote Porcello and Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo on the same ballot. Rizzo ended the weekend batting .276 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Porcello will be trying to follow in the footsteps of Inge, the former Tigers third baseman who won the AL Final Vote in 2009. Detroit has had no shortage of candidates since, including reliever Joaquin Benoit last year, but have been shut out since.
Fans began voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian immediately following the announcement of each league's 34-man roster on Sunday night. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until the winners will be announced after the voting concludes at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Though Sunday's loss took some steam out of his case, he still has at least five reasons worth consideration for the Final vote and a spot on the AL All-Star roster:
1. While one stingy streak doesn't make a case, Porcello's recent stretch was dominant enough to earn him attention among this season's crop of young breakout pitchers. His back-to-back shutouts tied him with Texas' Martin Perez for the AL lead. His 25-inning scoreless streak was just shy of Perez's 26-inning roll for best this season by an AL starter.
2. Wins aren't the measuring stick they used to be, but 11 victories by the break still stand out. Wins and losses were part of the case for Max Scherzer to not only earn his first All-Star selection last year, but get the starting assignment. Porcello's win total ranked second only to Masahiro Tanaka among AL starters and led all of his Final Vote competitors.
3. If traditional stats don't hold much sway, Porcello's 3.4 Wins Above Replacement, going by the baseball-reference.com formula, ranked fifth among AL pitchers entering Sunday, just behind Sale but ahead of Keuchel, Richards and Kluber.
4. Until Sunday, Porcello's best pitching had come recently. It might well have cost him votes on the player ballot, especially among hitters who saw him earlier in the year.
5. Porcello outpitched one member of his Final Vote competition in a head-to-head matchup. His six scoreless innings June 20 in Cleveland outdueled Kluber, starting off a three-game Tigers sweep of the Indians.