Washburn Deal Solid, But Not Without Risk
Washburn will be the Tigers’ third starter, but I look at the deal from this standpoint: It was like trading Luke French’s left-handed spot for Washburn. That’s a huge upgrade for the stretch run.
French, who has limited "stuff," did surprisingly well in his stint with the Tigers, but the wheels were about to come off. The addition of Washburn does help the Tigers take away pressure from rookie Rick Porcello, both in the number of innings he needs to pitch, and also on him to perform as the No. 3 starter. Now he’s either No. 4 or No. 5 - depending on how you look at it. It should help Porcello develop more ideally. People who are writing off Porcello the rest of the season are, in my opinion, wrong. He will pitch well for the Tigers. Washburn will take pressure off the Tigers bullpen. French was not lasting deep into starts. Washburn should be able to eat up more innings per start.
French is not the prospect that could come back and haunt the Tigers on this deal, which figures to be a two-month rental - unless they go deep into the playoffs and Washburn and organization decide they want each other. This was a breakout year for Manricio Robles. He filled out and has been throwing harder. He wasn’t among the Tigers top 30 prospects according to Baseball America entering the season, but likely would have been in the Top 15 - maybe even Top 10 - following the season.
While I like the deal, it should be noted Washburn’s recent past before this season, and postseason history, are not good.
He was 23-43 in the three seasons before this one - with an ERA in the mid 4's. His postseason record: 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA.