Boston Red Sox 2019 Report Cards: Pitcher Rick Porcello

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 23: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on June 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 23: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on June 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Evaluating the 2019 season of Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello and assigning a grade based on how his production lived up to expectations.

2019 was a season of woes for Boston Red Sox players and fans. It was a particularly difficult season for starting pitcher Rick Porcello.

The 30-year-old is coming off a four-year $82.5 million contract. In 2019, Porcello pitched 174.1 innings over 32 games, accumulating 14 wins, 12 losses, 1.1 WAR, 5.52 ERA, and a 1.394 WHIP.

A 5.52 ERA is the worst of Porcello’s 11-year MLB career (his second-highest was a 4.92 ERA in 2010 when he was playing with Detroit). In comparison to previous years, Porcello struggled to stay in games. He’s only had three seasons with lower than 174.1 innings pitched. In the previous three seasons, he pitched in at least 191.1 innings.

He allowed 198 hits, 107 runs, and 31 home runs. He ranked 78th for giving up the hardest contact and 11th for allowing balls hit over 95 mph. Over 32 games he had 13 quality starts and left 6 games with no decision about the game outcome.

On one of the few bright sides of this poor season, he had 143 strikeouts which marks the fifth most in his 11 seasons. He had a career-high for his fielding percentage which was .975%. Keep in mind, his fielding percentage doesn’t say much for a pitcher and isn’t good enough to earn him a gold glove, but it is still worth noting.

We know that the Red Sox pitching staff, starters and relievers, struggled this season (to say the very least). Let’s look at Porcello in comparison to the rest of his teammates. The Red Sox pitchers allowed 828 runs in 2019. The pitchers had an accumulative 4.70 ERA.

Porcello had the second-highest ERA among starting pitchers. The highest being a 5.99 ERA from Nathan Eovaldi. He played in the second-most games and pitched the second-most innings. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 203.1 innings over 34 games. This shows just how poorly all the starters played for the Red Sox this season, as 200 innings pitched in a season is what we should be measuring a typical season by.

Ricky allowed the most hits and the most runs out of the starting pitchers. 107 out of the 114 runs allowed by Porcello were earned. The difference in runs allowed by Porcello versus runs allowed by other pitchers was rather significant. Chris Sale allowed the second-most runs at 80.

On a highlight, he had the third-most strikeouts. Sale led the team in 218, followed by Rodriguez who had 213 strikeouts.

Now that we know how Porcello stacked up against his teammates, we can say that the entire team struggled in the pitching position. The Red Sox offense was able to put up a fair amount of hits and runs. The defense throughout the season was solid.

We know that the biggest area of weakness was with the pitching. Players all go through slumps, but what happens when all your pitchers go through extended slumps at the same time? Well, just look at the Red Sox 2019 season for your answer.

It’s hard to get a well-rounded idea of how to judge a player when the entire team performed poorly. To get a better idea of how 2019 played out for pitchers, let’s look at the American League.

Here’s the bad news: Porcello was 10th for losses, he allowed the 6th most home runs, allowed the 4th most hits and was 2nd for earned runs. The good news (the silver lining of a bad season): Rick had the 10th most strikeouts, 4th most assists as a pitcher, and 2nd most putouts as a pitcher.


Starting Pitcher. . Rick Porcello. D.

Future Outlook

We’ve seen what can come of the open market for players. Last season was arguably unfair for two of the best pitchers (Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel). Both pitchers were signed late in the season- Keuchel to a 1-year $13 million contract. Was that foreshadowing what will happen to Rick?

There will be pitchers available this season that has performed better than Rick. With guys like Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Cole HamelsHyun-Jin Ryu, Zack WheelerJake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, and Keuchel. Porcello will have a rough go at getting a major contract.

Overall, with Porcello’s performance as a Red Sox and his contract, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal. Porcello was a Cy Young winner back in 2016. It’s safe to say that neither party benefited in 2019. Porcello earned $21.12 million in the last year of his contract.

The good news? Porcello will be entering 2020 as a 31-year-old pitcher. He has ample experience that he will bring to a team and age-wise he’s in the prime of his career. He will be offered a contract in 2020. The bad news? He’s coming off one of his worst seasons yet. He won’t get the contract that he wants.

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It’s likely to be a 1-year contract. Porcello will then have to prove himself for a bigger contract at which point the age clock will be against him. Because of his poor 2019 season, the Red Sox might offer him a 1-year go considering the injuries with starters. However, the Red Sox are going into a rebuilding period. They have numerous players on the open market this year. Will they waste their time on Porcello? The re-sign chances (while present) are low.

I’ve always been a fan of Rick (in case that hasn’t already made itself obvious). I like him for his abilities on the field and his abilities off the field. While a player’s persona off the field isn’t enough alone to a sign a guy, it does play a role. Since the Red Sox are entering a rebuild, a guy like Porcello can offer a lot to a younger core of players.

That might not be convincing enough for you. So, I’ll back up why I would sign Porcello further. It seems that every other year Porcello has a poor season and then bounces right back in the following season.

In 2015, through 172 innings pitched in 28 games played he had a .375 W-L% with a 4.92 ERA, allowed 196 hits, 103 runs (94 of which were earned) and 25 home runs. The following year he bounced back in 223 innings pitched over 33 games, had a 3.15 ERA, .846 W-L%, allowed 193 hits, 85 runs (78 of which were earned).

Fast forward to 2017, he pitched in 203.1 innings over 33 games with a 4.65 ERA, allowed 236 hits, 125 runs (105 earned), 38 home runs. Then in 2018 he pitched in 191.1 innings, had a 4.28 ERA, allowed 177 hits, 114 runs (91 earned), 27 home runs.

Next. Boston Red Sox 2019 Report Cards: Utility Man Brock Holt. dark

As we can see, while those numbers are not significantly different, he can persevere through the rough seasons and come back to perform well. He won’t get a big contract and whoever does sign him is likely to receive the better end of that deal (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, Red Sox front office).