- C.J. Nitkowski, ESPN Insider
Each baseball season presents an opportunity for pitchers to make the leap from unknown to known or from serviceable to star. Below are five starting pitchers I believe will put their names on the map this season and solidify themselves as top-notch major league pitchers.
(As a bonus, some of these guys are probably available on the waiver wire in your fantasy league.)
Rick Porcello | RHP, Detroit Tigers
Despite being just 24 years old with 48 major league wins under his belt, Porcello still hasn't earned management's confidence. The concerns are warranted: In 2012, opposing batters hit .310 against Porcello, the highest of all qualifying starting pitchers by a 20-point margin. (Of course, some of that can be blamed on the Tigers' mediocre infield defense.)
This winter, Porcello spent time with Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones to address mechanical flaws and redefine his repertoire. He has decided to ditch his inconsistent slider and focus on improving his curve. Jones said the changes in Porcello's delivery have helped him to get more "carry" on his pitches, likely by using his lower body more or focusing on extension in his release point. The likely results will be better velocity, later life and more ground balls.
C.J. Nitkowski looks at five pitchers he expects to have breakout seasons in 2013, starting with Detroit's Rick Porcello.