The Boston Red Sox pitching staff is in need of a major shakeup as the offseason regiment that manager Alex Cora instituted has backfired entirely.
Rick Porcello had a poor first outing for the Red Sox, it was downright awful. Nine runs on six hits in 2 2/3rd’s innings of work. He also walked four and only struck out three against the Mariners who are one of the leagues best teams in 2019. A shock after moving their star closer and their 8-Time All-Star second baseman. Porcello’s 2nd appearance of the season was even worse.
The Sox starter lasted on 4 2/3rd’s innings and while yes, he was able to get deeper into a game, it wasn’t without its issues. Porcello gave up seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits while walking three and striking out five in addition to giving up two home runs. Porcello in two starts has an ERA of 13.50 and has managed to get eight strikeouts while also walking seven batters and has surrendered 16 runs, 11 earned on 16 hits in 7 1/3rd innings of work.
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The Diamondbacks are 4 – 4 and are sitting third in their division just two games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have free fallen to 2 – 7 and 5th place in the American League East, 4.5 games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays. Yes, the Rays. The Sox prior to the beginning of 2019 had an Opening Day payroll exceeding $236 million. The Rays? Just above the $60 million dollar mark. Yup, Boston is spending nearly four times what Tampa Bay has and they connect and gel better. Concerned? We certainly should be.
To add insult to injury, the Rays have only one player making above $8.2 million. The Red Sox have nine players making $8.5 million or more, in fact, the top three players in Boston are making almost $76 million. When you hear the numbers, it makes you want to cringe. How can Porcello who is making $21.125 million throw up back to back goose eggs as far as starting performances are concerned? This reminds me of the good ole’ fashioned Josh Beckett Syndrome. One great season followed by a lackluster one.
Look no further than Porcello’s numbers from 2015 through 2018. After receiving a major contract extension worth 4-years/$82.5M before ever throwing one pitch for Boston, the team was committing to him as a top of the rotation starter. Porcello flopped in 2015 posting a 9 – 15 record with a 4.92 ERA and 149 K’s. He followed that up with a 2016 campaign posting a 22 – 4 record with a 3.15 ERA, 89 strikeouts, and a Cy Young Award.
2017 saw the reverse going 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA and 181 punch outs. 2018 brought success once more going 17-7 with a 4.28 ERA and 190 strikeouts. Porcello three times cracked 190+ innings and had 200+ innings in both 2015 and 2016. In each of the last three seasons, Porcello has started 33 games. He’s consistent when it comes to appearances but not when it comes to quality performances year in and out.
The reason why this hurts for the Sox is that the Diamondbacks are considered one of the worst teams in baseball this season as far as pitching is concerned. The two worst teams in baseball as far as runs allowed are the Sox and D-Backs. The Sox rank 32nd in runs allowed with 67, the D-Backs are 31st on the list at 62. After yesterday’s blowout, the Red Sox have a -26 run differential. It’s no shock that they are one of the worst squads in 2019.
Red Sox Pitching Woes
There are multiple starters to blame, Porcello is not the only culprit but he certainly needs to rectify his issues with the amount of money that he is getting paid. In a contract year, you know that he wants and needs to pitch well. The odds of him returning to Boston are slim with the amount of money that they are going to be dishing out to Mookie Betts in the not so near future.
Porcello and Brian Johnson both imploded last night in Arizona. Neither one of them are the answer in 2020 and beyond for Boston. There will be other potential candidates that could be wonderful fits in Bean Town. Two pitchers that come to mind are Gerrit Cole & Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg is almost 31 years old and Cole is 28 years old. Of the two, I think most would agree that Cole would be the better option for multiple reasons, he has no injury concerns and is a couple of years younger which makes him a better long term option.
Time will tell if Boston will go all in on another All-Star pitcher to replace the failing Porcello Project.