Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello is on pace for a career year that would top the 2016 campaign that earned him a Cy Young Award.
The Boston Red Sox lost a game started by Rick Porcello for the first time this season. The bullpen was tagged with the loss, keeping one of the franchise’s most impressive streaks alive. Porcello is 30-0 over his last 36 starts in which he’s received 3+ runs of support. Another quality start also keeps Porcello on pace for a career year. One that would even top his 2016 Cy Young campaign.
Porcello produced his fourth straight quality start on Tuesday, holding the Toronto Blue Jays to three runs over seven innings. He issued an uncharacteristic three walks but allowed only three hits, while striking out nine.
The Jays held a slim lead when Porcello exited after seven innings. The Red Sox rallied to tie the game in the ninth, only to lose in extra-innings when Craig Kimbrel served up a walk-off homer to Curtis Granderson. The Red Sox would not be spared their third consecutive loss yet Porcello’s record would remain an unblemished 4-0.
Four wins are still enough to tie for the American League lead. The right-hander ranks ninth in the league with a 1.93 ERA and seventh with a 0.83 WHIP. One could argue he’s been even better than that given he leads the majors with a 1.76 FIP.
He has not only been one of the league’s top pitchers this year, Porcello has been better than he was in 2016.
Porcello won each of his first five starts in April 2016, putting him one win ahead of where he’s currently at this year. The 32 2/3 innings he logged that month match this year’s innings total, giving us an even sample to evaluate. Despite the extra win, Porcello’s 2.76 ERA through his first five starts in 2016 is nearly a full run higher than where it stands this year.
He struck out 36 batters and walked six through five starts in 2016 compared to 32 strikeouts and 4 walks this year.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
The most impressive aspect of Porcello’s start to the season is that he has yet to allow a home run. The pitcher who led the majors in home runs allowed last year hasn’t allowed any through five starts! He allowed five homers through his first three starts of 2016, so the long ball was an issue at times even during his best season.
We’re still dealing with a relatively small sample size this year but Porcello is on pace to shatter his previous career-highs. Piling up 22 wins was a significant reason why he won the Cy Young two years ago, even if voters are warming to the concept that wins aren’t an accurate portrayal of a pitcher’s value. Assuming he matches the 33 starts he made in each of the last two seasons, Porcello is currently on pace for about 26 wins.
His ERA and WHIP are bound to regress over the course of the season. However, several advanced metrics point to Porcello pitching better than ever. Being stingy with the home runs has been huge but Porcello is also allowing fewer hits (6.3 H/9) and walks (1.1 BB/9) while striking out batters at a higher rate (8.8 K/9). He led the majors in 2016 with an impressive 5.91 K/BB ratio. So far this season he’s blowing the mark away with an 8.00 K/BB ratio.
Porcello is hardly a favorite to win the Cy Young this year. He’s (probably) not even the best starting pitcher on his own team. Yet the Red Sox would be thrilled if they knew they were getting the 2016 version of Porcello to slot behind Chris Sale and David Price in the rotation.
Based on the early returns, this isn’t the 2016 version. This Porcello has been even better.