The following information was gathered from Rick Porcello's April 9th, 2009 start against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto. I watched the game on Fox and used their radar gun for velocities.
Fastball...89-92 and touched 93 four times -- thrown 74.2% of the time. He gets excellent late movement that breaks away from lefties and into righties. Overall, he located his fastball very well, painting both corners of the plate and commanding the pitch up and down the zone. His average fastball was 90 MPH -- 92 in the first inning, 90 over the next five innings.
Two of Porcello's four strikeouts came off of fastballs: a low 93 MPH pitch that got Travis Snider swinging in the 4th inning and a high, away 92 MPH fastball that Vernon Wells swung through in the fifth inning. Aaron Hill took Porcello deep on a 92 MPH inside fastball in the fifth inning -- two batters before Wells.
Porcello's fastball movement combined with his ability to locate the pitch made it one of the best fastball I've seen this year.
Curveball...74-76 and thrown 16.9% of the time in this outing. He didn't locate his curveball well today, but it's a potential above-average pitch. He threw two different curveballs, one that was a big 71-73 MPH pitch -- thrown only a couple of times -- and another that was a sharp 74-76 MPH pitch. Porcello struck out Michael Barrett and Alex Rios looking with his curveball. Adam Lind crushed a home run to center field off a hanging 74 MPH curveball in the sixth inning -- he had already seen two curveballs in that at-bat. Of the 15 curveballs he threw, 60% were balls.
Changeup...79-82 and thrown 9.0% of the time. Because his changeup comes out of a very similar arm slot and his fastball and is about 10 MPH slower, it's an effective pitch. Only one of the eight changeups he threw was a strike. By our count, he used the pitch once in the second inning -- 2-2 count against Lyle Overbay -- and seven times in the fourth inning.
Box Score Breakdown:
Porcello's final line was: 5.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. He gave up seven singles, many of which went up-the-middle. Fifty-seven of the 89 pitches he threw were for strikes (64.0%). He induced eight groundouts and three flyouts. The lone walk that Porcello issued was to Overbay. He faced 24 batters.
Until he learns to locate his curveball and changeup consistently, Porcello is going to give up a lot of hits. While he has a very good fastball, it isn't one that he'll be able to blow by hitters -- we only counted three swing-throughs with his fastball. Given that he was only throwing one pitches (his fastball) for strikes regularly, I was very impressed that Porcello only walked one batter in this outing.
Because of his excellent command of his fastball and the movement he gets with the pitch, it's possible that Porcello will have some dominant outings when his potential above-average curveball is on. Whether that will be his next outing, a month from now, or two years from now is the big question. He's definitely a guy who has the potential to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. Let's just hope that his young arm stays healthy as he faces big league hitters at the ripe age of 20.