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."
Weinhardt showing he belongs in bigs
DETROIT -- Robbie Weinhardt is proving to be anything but an "extra reliever." Weinhardt was called up from Triple-A Toledo by the Tigers on Wednesday to give the taxed bullpen an eighth arm. But after his performance in his last three starts -- his first appearances in the Major Leagues -- it may be difficult to send him back to the Mud Hens.
"He's done a good job," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's kind of an unknown. They don't know him. That's to your advantage a little bit. He's done a fine job so far. He's thrown the ball over the plate and he's pounded the strike zone for a young kid. I've been impressed with him."
On Friday, Weinhardt entered the game in a bases loaded jam and was able to induce a ground ball to force a double play to get out of the inning. Then on Saturday, he threw 1 1/3 innings without giving up a hit. In his big league debut Wednesday, Weinhardt said his nerves got the best of him and he surrendered his first career earned run.
But overall, the 24-year-old right-hander said he's been pleased with his performance, which he credits to his ability to locate his go-to pitch, the sinker.
"I think it went well," Weinhardt said. "I was able to help the team out in ways I was brought in to do. It was nothing over the line and I was just basically trying to get guys out as fast as I can. I'm not trying to strike anybody out. I'm just trying to get some ground balls."
Leyland gave Weinhardt the day off Sunday. With his effectiveness in his three appearances, the Tigers bullpen was able to stay fresh going into the series finale against the Twins.
"It was nice to give the rest of the guys some time off and have a fresh full bullpen for [Sunday]," Weinhardt said. "We almost have the whole bullpen ready with six other guys available to throw today. That's a big boost."
Alex DiFilippo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.