Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello is what he is – accept it

Jun 2, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) walks back to the dugout after the fifth inning during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) walks back to the dugout after the fifth inning during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Boston Red Sox have a Cy Young Award winner who isn’t pitching like one. I don’t expect Rick Porcello to ever repeat 2016.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello would have been a great contestant on the old game show “To Tell the Truth.” Three contestants would claim to be the same person who would invariably have an unusual occupation. A celebrity panel would toss out questions to narrow down to just who may be telling the truth? In the end, it would be “Would the real Rick Porcello please stand up.”

Porcello has managed a double anomaly in his Red Sox career. Porcello’s first year was certainly a disappointment as more – much more –was expected. In six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Porcello posted a respectable 76-63 record and a 4.30 ERA. This simply translates to a decent middle of the rotation pitching. With Boston, he hit the pitching skids at 9-15, 4.92. An anomaly? Possibly.

In a recent BSI article, Daniel Cassese called out Boston fans to defend David Price – I have difficulty doing that, but have no qualms about defending Porcello. Nothing more consistent than inconsistency. Porcello – who had signed a rather hefty contract – then responded by winning the Cy Young Award and going 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA. An anomaly? Looks that way.

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So just who is the real Porcello?

That is being answered in 2017 and the path is being set for a far too close to 2015 performance, but maybe not that drastic. Porcello has given up the long ball more frequently and is at a dismal 3-8, but his 4.46 ERA and 4.02 FIP are under the disaster of that first season.

Porcello is likely in his Boston career to be just what he was in Detroit and that is nothing special nor sour. You would expect a record a few games above .500 and an FIP and ERA slightly north of 4.00. Is that acceptable? If you take out 2016 it certainly is.

Porcello gives up too many hits, but that anomaly thing regarding hits surfaced in 2016. Porcello had a career low of 7.8 H/9. Porcello had never been below 9.0. The 1.3 BB/9 also became a career low so that was a perfect storm combination for pitching success. This season, his 11.6 H/9 is a career high and BB/9 is sitting at 1.8. Both figures this season have undoubtedly contributed to Porcello’s regression.

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Porcello is giving up home runs at an alarming rate. This season his 1.6 HR/9 is well above his career average and certainly his 0.9 HR/9 of 2016. Did I leave out WHIP? Building a case for the good Porcello versus the bad Porcello, I should omit that dismal stat – 1.49 – a career high so far this season.

So am I defending him based on the negatives I tossed out? Most assuredly, since I had no illusions that the real Porcello was not 2016. The real Porcello was what he was in Detroit and (hopefully) that will be where he eventually statistically finish in 2017. That is also where I fully expect Porcello to be each season until his contract expires in 2019. I can live with it as long as Chris Sale and Price pitch like all expect.

Next: Price is in a media war he cannot win

Porcello is also the proverbial “innings eater” who will rarely miss a start, generally give you a decent six or seven innings, and the possibility of getting a win while giving the bullpen a breather. If you care to argue the value of contract I would most certainly agree that return on value may be missing, but, hey – this is the Boston Red Sox where overpay is standard operating procedure.