After a disappointing 2015, Rick Porcello will prove to Red Sox nation that he is actually a quality starter
Before the season began, the Boston Red Sox starting rotation consisted of David Price and a handful of mediocre pitchers. However, it seems as though a new star is beginning to emerge. Rick Porcello, whose name most Sox fans’ usually cringe at after a terrible 2015 season, is finally proving that he is worth that four-year, $82.5 million contract extension he signed in April of 2015. Not only that, but Porcello setting himself up to have a breakout year in Boston.
When Porcello was traded to the Boston Red Sox during the 2014/2015 offseason, it was assumed that he would be their ace. He had found relative success with the Detroit Tigers in 2014 prior to arriving in Boston and it seemed like he would be the best pitcher by far in the Sox rotation during the 2015 season. Unfortunately, this middle-of-the-rotation starter could not handle the pressure of being the team’s No. 1 pitcher. Porcello digressed significantly in 2015 and many deemed him a lost cause along with Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.
Thankfully, Price came along in 2016 and assumed the ace role. Porcello was bumped to the No. 3 spot in the rotation and has since excelled. Without the added pressure of being the team’s ace, Porcello is 4-0 with a 3.51 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP so far this season. Additionally, he has 30 strikeouts over just 25.2 innings pitched and has only walked five batters. However, this success should not be surprising after the small comeback he made when he was activated from disabled list last season.
In 2015, Porcello landed on the DL on July 30 with tricep soreness and inflammation. Upon his return, Porcello demonstrated dominance on the mound. He maintained an 2.10 ERA over his last eight starts along with a 4-4 record. This short stint of success at the end of the last year was a sign that Porcello would finally have his breakout season with the Red Sox in 2016.
Now, the success that Porcello will find this season must be put into perspective. Porcello has only pitched two full seasons in his seven year MLB career where his ERA remained below 4.00. So, it is extremely unlikely that Porcello with end the 2016 season with an ERA below 3.00. However, I predict that he will finish the year with an ERA in the mid-3.00s, collecting at least one shutout and a winning record. This would qualify as a comeback in Porcello’s books.
While most fans thought that Price would be the only successful pitcher in the Sox rotation this season, Porcello is proving that he can be a reliable starter. WEEI.com writer Rob Bradford even pointed to Porcello’s consistency on the mound by informing the public that Porcello has the second longest active streak, behind Jake Arrieta, after having gone six or more innings in his last 12 straight starts. If he continues to pitch well consistently, Porcello will become the glue that holds the middle of the starting rotation together.