Red Sox righty Rick Porcello needs to shine for his future
Boston Red Sox righty Rick Porcello is in the final weeks of his tenure with the team. He needs to shine in these starts to set up his future.
The Red Sox are about to start a homestand from hell as the Twins and Yankees are coming to town with every game being a must-win. Neither team is letting off the gas pedal as October approaches and Boston has zero room for error. With that said, veteran righty Rick Porcello will be on the hill tonight for the Sox with his future very uncertain.
When you look at Porcello’s time in Boston it’s the definition of a rollercoaster. He is the tried and true perfect example of an up and down player as every other season is an inverse of the previous. When the offseason hits this winter he will find himself as a free agent for the first time in a long time. He was traded to the Red Sox shortly before Christmas of 2011 and has been a foundation of this starting rotation ever since.
Rick’s last four seasons break down to 22-4, 11-17, 17-7, 12-10, again the man is a damn rollercoaster. He won the Cy Young in 2016 thanks to that 22-4 record along with a 3.15 ERA and a stellar 189/32 K/BB ratio. Beyond that season it’s been a heavy mix of frustration and mastery for both Porcello and Red Sox Nation.
We’ll all remember his performances from the 2018 postseason as he had pure ice in his veins every outing. He would not only start and shut down other lineups but on his “off-days” he would come in from the pen and help the relief efforts of Alex Cora. He had a hell of a line about his outlook on being worked so often in October in relation to winning a championship.
"“If we don’t get it done, we’re not going to throw another pitch for four months, and everything we did the entire year is over,” Porcello said. “So I’d much rather throw the s— out of my arm now and have it feel s—-y for three months with a ring on my hand then hem and haw about if I’m good to go and sit there feeling good the entire offseason. This is it. This is do or die.”"
That mindset was felt throughout the team and more specifically the pitching staff during the historic World Series run but it hasn’t carried over for Rick this season. As I mentioned we’ve all seen the glimpses of his promise and ability as he’s thrown absolute gems over the course of the season. But he’s also had numerous outings where walks and poor pitch selection has crippled his efforts.
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Though his time in Boston has been more of a success than a failure, I don’t see Dave Dombrowski offering Rick another contract. Before the season started Porcello offered to take a pay cut to stay in Boston but the Red Sox weren’t interested at the time, I don’t see that changing. Porcello may have seen the writing on the wall as he was heading into his contract year as he has several factors working against him.
He’ll be turning 31 a few days after Christmas and with the type of career he’s had I also can’t imagine him getting another big payday either. He can still be a back of the rotation guy and probably a top guy for many clubs in the league but it feels like his time in Boston is running out. If he does want to see another solid contract to end his career he has to be lights-out for his final handful of starts.
When it comes to Rick I always think of the Toby Keith line “I ain’t as good as I once was,
but I’m as good once as I ever was.” I’m not a country music fan and grammatically it makes my brain hurt, but I can’t think of a phrase more accurate for Rick Porcello. When he’s on his game he looks like the guy that won the Cy Young. Hitters can’t touch him and his placement is pinpoint accurate.
Rick is finishing up his 11th year in the Majors and has had a very good career. Where he goes when his time in Boston is over is a mystery for the right-hander. If he has more in the tank then how he finishes out his time with the Red Sox could very well decide what happens in the next chapter. With just four weeks left in the season, Rick needs the Red Sox just as much as they need him and both need the other to be at their best.