Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello throws a complete game, proving that he’s not someone to trade. His performances have been vitally important.
After the disaster that was 2015, who would have thought that Rick Porcello would be the one to steer the Red Sox ship in the right direction? Last night’s performance gave Boston the victory and snapped their four-game losing streak. It was just the second win for the Red Sox in the last eight games.
The 27-year-old Porcello took that 82.5 million dollar right arm and went into Angel Stadium of Anaheim, throwing with a purpose. He threw all nine innings against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing only two runs on five hits, no walks, and three strikeouts. Tim Lincecum, Porcello’s counter pitcher, allowed four runs on five hits, six walks, and three strikeouts in only five innings of work. The Red Sox recorded the win, 6-2.
The win ties Porcello with Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, and Chris Tillman for 14 wins, the most of any MLB pitchers this season. Sale has been a man with many trade rumors circling him like vultures, as other teams want to pick the bones of the free-falling Chicago White Sox. That wasn’t the case for Porcello last year, when a 9-15 record and a 4.92 ERA prompted many members of Red Sox Nation to voice their displeasure and desire for his hefty price tag to be sent to any team willing to take it in a trade.
Ian Browne of MLB.com covered the Porcello story, reporting that Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “He’s been our stopper […] And he’s been very consistent, probably the most dependable guy in our rotation when you go back to the opening series of the season. It’s not a fluke. It’s the work, the preparation, the competitiveness that he shows on the mound.”
That opening series Farrell referred to was in Canada against the Toronto Blue Jays, where Porcello allowed two home runs to big-name hitter Jose Bautista in the same game and yet survived six innings and limited the damage long enough for the team to climb back and take the victory. The very next game for Porcello was against the same Blue Jays, this time in Boston’s Fenway Park, when he gave up two home runs to Edwin Encarnacion and yet lasted into the seventh inning and picked up the win, again.
Definitely workmanlike, like Browne suggested in his article, not flashy.
Porcello has realized that he has to grind games out, not to try too hard to dominate opposing teams. That kind of strategy is what blew up in Porcello’s face before his injury last season. Browne recorded Porcello saying, “Last year, probably right before the DL was pretty much rock bottom for me, so I can’t think about that anymore […] We’re in a good spot now and have to continue to play good baseball and get on a run here.”
The rest of the Red Sox starters have thrown over 100 pitches like Porcello did last night, but knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright is the only other Boston pitcher to throw a complete game this season. In fact, Wright has three complete games, but all of them were back in May; there was not a better time for the Red Sox to have another successful complete game than the one that Porcello threw last night.
ESPN‘s Scott Lauber also added, “Everything about Porcello is different this year, from his renewed reliance on his sinker to his body language on the mound. To be fair, it began late last season. In 29 starts since he returned from the disabled list and shut out the White Sox for seven innings last Aug. 26, he’s 18-6 with a 3.37 ERA.”
Porcello’s mental state on the mound is best described when one looks at his split numbers. According to FanGraphs.com, Porcello’s strikeout percentage is slightly down from last season, but so are his walks. He’s inducing about the same amount of groundballs that he did last season, and his flyball percentage has actually increased, but his ratio of home runs to flyballs is much lower (14.5% to 9.9%). Porcello’s not leaving pitches up high and fat for MLB sluggers to bash over the fences as much, often missing the sweet spot on their bats for easy flyouts.
Tough, gritty performances like Porcello made last night will make Red Sox execs want to hold onto him like a life preserver, as Boston has been drowning in runs for the past week, especially in the later innings. There are solid rumors that Kimbrel, the Red Sox closer, should be able to make a return from his injured knee next week. That’s good news for many of the Red Sox starters who want to pick up wins with a solid reliever to mop up any messes. However, Porcello’s too busy doing the job himself.
Give that man some shades, because Porcello’s time in Boston will continue to look bright if he keeps throwing like that. No trade clouds in that man’s future. At least not for Monday’s trade deadline.