Tonight is Rick Porcello’s final start as a member of the Boston Red Sox. With his future uncertain, he’ll need to have a strong performance on his way out.
We’re in the final days of the season and just like that, we’re also at the final start of Rick Porcello‘s time with the Red Sox. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for “Pretty Ricky” in Beantown but it hasn’t been a disappointment either. As this season concludes Porcello will hit the free-agent market with plenty of uncertainty ahead for the righty.
He came to Boston through a trade with the Tigers in December of 2014 and would soon be given a contract extension by then General Manager Ben Cherington. With a 4-year/$82.5M deal signed, sealed, and delivered, Rick would be with the Red Sox for the foreseeable future. Just as soon as that deal was made we’re now at the end of the line and those four years are up.
So from December 2014 to where we are now in September 2019, I think signing Rick to the contract that Cherington offered was a good idea. It wasn’t perfect as the salary was a lot to eat for the Red Sox but it also gave them a reliable pitcher on the roster for nearly half a decade.
Hell, if the Sox didn’t have Porcello on the roster last fall I’m not sure they do as well in the postseason. He was automatic whether he was in the starting lineup or coming out of the bullpen. His energy was infectious and was a big motivator whenever he had the ball in his hand.
When players enter their contract years they tend to ramp things up in order to make themselves as desireable as possible before hitting the market. Sadly, that wasn’t quite how 2019 went for Rick. Before tonight’s start, he’s currently sitting at 13-12 with a 5.56 ERA in 168.1 IP. It’s not his worst season in a Red Sox uniform but it’s a massive departure from his best.
Overall during his Boston tenure, he owns a 72-55 record with a 4.48 ERA in 958 IP. That is actually right on par for his career as he tends to stay within those parameters. Rick is the dictionary definition of a roller-coaster pitcher. Every other season brings an up that is soon followed by a down. Just take his time with the Red Sox: 9-15, 22-4, 11-17, 17-7, and 13-12 with the 22-4 year also delivering a Cy Young Award.
The inconsistent stats aren’t working in Porcello’s favor as he heads into the offseason. Neither is his age as he’ll soon be 31 and his current salary. Rick is earning an AAV of $20.63M which is one of the highest for the upcoming free-agent class of pitchers. All three can be warning signs for teams to either stay away or at least keep their offers short and sweet. I can’t imagine him getting anything remotely close to what he did with the Red Sox, especially with his play this year.
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He’s still a valuable pitcher to any staff and can help any team win, it’ll just depend on the situation he’s given. He has his moments where it looks like he could earn another Cy Young but he also tends to follow those with nightmare outings. With the later innings being the ones that can bite him, he may flourish in more of an opener role or even a long reliever. It all depends on where he sees his career going in the future and what teams are willing to offer him.
There’s always a role for a veteran player and Rick Porcello offers that to any team out there. He’s had the highest of highs and lowest of lows in his career and can be an asset to a younger pitching staff through his experiences. I think his days of being an ace for a pitching staff are long gone but he still has gas in the tank to help a team achieve their goals.
When he wins he often credits his teammates for their play and when he loses he will always place the blame on himself. That kind of honesty and self-reflection is a major character plus and can be a true breath of fresh air in a world where people aren’t always willing to be humble.
So tonight’s the night, his last chance at making a good impression before he’s a free agent. Not to sound dramatic but his future relies on this start against Texas. What he does on the mound tonight very well could decide his future. Rick Porcello’s time with the Red Sox has given the Fenway Faithful some great moments and I want to thank him for everything he did while wearing the uniform.