It may be time for the Boston Red Sox to move on from right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello, who will be a free agent after this season.
I believe it’s time for the Boston Red Sox to move on from right-hander Rick Porcello for a few reasons.
First, ever since he has become part of the starting rotation, Porcello has generally been inconsistent and has never had very powerful stuff. I think it’s important to have zip on your pitches and be able to blow by hitters, especially in a division such as the American League East, where sluggers are plentiful. Secondly, he has always allowed many hits per nine innings which can get a team into trouble. And thirdly, he has a troubling trend of an increase in his walks per nine innings.
After this season Porcello is a free agent but I believe the Red Sox should move on from him sooner rather than later.
Overall, my biggest issue with Porcello is that while he has been better than average since he joined the team and has, in fact, won a Cy Young award, his numbers prove he is to some degree an overrated and overvalued starting pitcher. I will look at the numbers that he has posted since becoming a Red Sox pitcher in 2015.
Though the season just started, Porcello has had a terrible start and is not helping matters for the team that is struggling to find its groove.
First, I wanted to discuss his inconsistencies. Because Porcello does not have overpowering stuff, he has to rely on off-speed pitches to get batters out. Though he has been successfully pitching to produce ground balls, it is just not enough in the American League East. His career strikeouts per nine inning averages are only at 6.6. Watching the Red Sox over a span of a couple of decades, I have seen that it is important to have a pitcher who can get guys away with a good fastball.
Speaking of which, Porcello’s fastball has also dipped in its velocity over the last couple of years. According to Fangraphs, his four-seam fastball velocity was at an average of 92.7 mph in 2017. In 2018, his four-seam average velocity dipped to an average of 91.6 mph. We’ll have to wait how this season goes but so far he’s averaging 91.8. It is higher than last season but he has only had a few starts. It still shows that there is a dip in his fastball velocity that is noticeable.
Not only is his lack of finishing ability as a pitcher noticeable, so is his high career ERA. He has not obtained an ERA lower than 4.00 more than once since joining the Red Sox. Of course, the year he did not have an ERA of under 4.00 was his miraculous CY Young Award season in 2016. With all due respect, that CY Young Award seemed to be more of a flash in the pan than anything else.
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Not only does Porcello give up a lot of runs, but he also allows a very high career hits per nine innings average of 9.7. This tells me that opposing batters are making solid contact when they can against him.
Porcello has allowed an alarming increase in walks per nine innings over the last couple of seasons. From 2016- 2019, though keep in mind 2019 just started, his BB/9 has increased each season. From 2017- 2018 his walks per nine innings went up from 2.1- 2.3. This season he owns a 9.53 BB/9. I know the season just started but in his most recent start against Baltimore, he went only 4 innings, gave up 6 hits, and walked 5. That is not very encouraging to see when we are in the middle of April and approaching his 4th start.
Overall, I believe that Porcello does not help the starting pitching and since he is approaching free agency, I think it would be wise to consider the fact that if the Red Sox do not seem to have a future plan for him then why not just get rid of him right now? They really do not seem to be losing much according to the numbers presented and his most recent start seems to cast a shadow of a doubt, at least in my mind, what his immediate future holds.
Who knows if the Red Sox are going to make changes, especially with the recent loss again to the Yankees. Things do not seem to be getting better and maybe sending a message to the rest of the team can wake them up a bit and start thinking about winning.