DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced Rick Porcello will start the nightcap of a double header against the Indians on Saturday. But from there, Leyland said the club will play it by ear with Porcello.
Leyland has repeatedly said Porcello's return to the Tigers rotation will be crucial for the club in the second half of the season and that Detroit won't look to dish out the right-hander as the Trade Deadline approaches.
Porcello was sent down to Toledo on June 21, after posting a 4-7 record with a 6.14 ERA. His numbers in Toledo haven't been much better, going 1-2 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts. But Leyland said he was encouraged by Porcello's last outing on Friday, where he threw seven shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and three walks, yet took the no decision in the Mud Hen's loss.
"I don't know that he's totally turned around," Leyland said. "He had a pretty good sinker last time. He's got the sinker going again, and that's the No. 1 priority. Get that thing going first and continue to build on the other stuff and improve your breaking ball and changeup. I don't know that he's totally turned it around. I think that's pretty premature. But I think he's doing pretty good."
The Tigers were hoping Porcello's Minor League stint would mimic that of Max Scherzer. Scherzer was sent to Toledo in early May, but returned shortly thereafter with an improved arsenal of pitches. He has won five of his last eight starts since then.
Porcello hasn't seen the same results as Scherzer, and Leyland wants to make sure he doesn't rush the 21-year-old back into a big league rotation before he's ready.
"We are hoping Rick Porcello can come back at some point and be very successful for us in the second half," Leyland said. "We need him. But we aren't going to bring people back just to bring them back. Over the years I've sent a lot of good players down to the Minor Leagues that have come back and been very productive."