DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland had just delivered the news that Max Scherzer (deltoid strain) would be unable to make his start on Friday. Then he expressed further concern about Rick Porcello's availability for Monday.
"He is [a concern]. To me he is," Leyland said. "I'm sure he'll make [his next start], because afterwards we had everything checked out and he was fine health-wise. So if he's fine health-wise that uncomplicates some things. But I'm going to look into it today. I'm going to have a talk with him about what's going on."
Porcello threw four innings against the Royals on Wednesday night, allowing four runs on seven hits. And although he began the night hitting 92-94 mph with his fastball in the first inning, that steeply declined in the fourth.
Porcello's fastball velocity dropped between 88-90 mph, prompting the skipper to remove him from the game. Leyland said on Thursday morning that it was "alarming."
"I just didn't like the way it was coming out," he said. "I was concerned about it. He said something in the third inning and I didn't know about it at the time, but he said he had really no feel for it."
Leyland also called the drop in velocity a red flag, as it was with Scherzer when he was removed from a Sept. 18 start against Oakland with right shoulder fatigue.
"But in fairness, I think there's a possibility, and I'm hoping this is the scenario, the fact that [Porcello] hadn't been out there in 10 days had something to do with it," the skipper said. "Did it for sure? I can't answer that. I don't know. But we'll get by."
According to BrooksBaseball.net, on Sept. 10 not a single Porcello fastball between pitches 51 to 61 was below 91 mph. On Wednesday night, only one of his final 10 pitches was above 90.
Porcello said he wasn't concerned about the drop in velocity.
"I just lost command of the strike zone," he said. "I really just didn't throw the ball good at all. I was up in the zone all day. Just didn't throw the ball well."