Boston Red Sox pitchers: Who will trend up or down?
By Rick McNair
I do have some doubts that circulate and give me a certain level of pitching angst. The first is the reigning Cy Young Award winner in Rick Porcello. Porcello’s 2016 season is clearly an “I (we) didn’t see that coming” year. The rehash of his accomplishments both statistically and as a pitching door stop is exceptionally impressive. Was is an anomaly?
Statistical anomalies occur often in baseball where a player has a remarkable season squeezed in somewhere between just average or below average seasons. My favorite was in the first expansion year of 1961 when the Tigers Norm Cash won the American League batting title hitting .361. The next season Cash hit .243 and never came close to .300 in a 17-year career.
There is nothing in Porcello’s pitching background to show what we saw is what we will get for the duration of a contract that now seems team friendly and not cumbersome as once expected. I can see a pullback in Porcello. Not the disaster of 2015, but more in line with 2014 or even a touch of 2013.
This is what Porcello always was – a competent middle of the rotation pitcher who gave you innings and games of varying quality – putrid to dominant. Collectively it translates to your basic .500 pitcher whose ERA or FIP or xFIP all fall into the range of 4.00 – excellent if you are being graded for a class, but average if you are being graded as a pitcher.
Even a Porcello trend back would not be tragic. Porcello is gritty, an inning eater, highly competitive and apparently has the pitching mechanics that promote longevity. The Red Sox expected a solid lower-end of the rotation pitcher and had a 2016 surprise. Back to what he was projected to be for the 2017 season.