The Boston Red Sox rotation received an unexpected ace last season when Rick Porcello turned out a Cy Young performance. 2017 has been a completely different story for the right-handed pitcher though. With less than a month left in the regular season, it’s become unclear whether he’ll even make the postseason roster.
Rick Porcello led the entire Majors in wins last season with 22 (only four losses). This season, he leads the Majors in losses with 17 (nine wins).
Porcello set a lot of personal-bests last season. While the 22 wins were great, it was the 3.15 earned run average and 1.01 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) that were most impressive. He also set marks in innings (223) and strikeouts (189) in 2016.
This season, Porcello’s career-worst 17 losses are matched paired with other unattractive stats.
At one point people were using the “low run support” excuse for why Porcello was losing. While it’s true that the 4.27 runs the Red Sox are giving him per game aren’t great, one look at his stats and it’s tough to fault the offense for Porcello’s struggles.
The 28-year-old holds a 4.64 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Meanwhile, he’s throw 186 1/3 innings, striking out 167 batters.
While the K/9 rate is actually the best of his career, it’s at the sacrifice of a league-worst 35 home runs given up. Opponents are also hitting .289 against him (.230 last season).
Porcello’s had some solid stretches during the season. In that time, he gives glimpses of the pitcher he was in 2016. Without fail though, he reverts back to the struggling pitcher he’s been for the majority of 2017.
His last outing was actually not bad. Porcello gave up two runs over five innings. He did pick up the loss though. There’s an example of the offense not helping him out. Porcello’s also given up five-or-more runs in nine starts though. Not many offenses can help him there.
Combining last season with his promising stretches might have been enough to keep Porcello on the playoff roster if not for a few moving parts.
First there was the emergence of Doug Fister. The 33-year-old is on a fantastic run and has lowered his own ERA to 3.91 on the season.
Then there’s Carson Smith and Austin Maddox. Smith is finally back on the mound, and although he’s only thrown two innings his slider is as devastating as ever. Meanwhile, Maddox has 9 1/3 innings in the Majors this year. He wasn’t in the playoff plans long ago, but the fact that he’s yet to give up a run for Boston has thrown him in the race.
Finally, there’s David Price. Price was much more effective than Porcello during his time on the mound this year. If he can return looking strong from his injury, Boston will probably want to find space for him on the roster.
There’s no way around it. Rick Porcello’s playoff roster spot is in jeopardy. He needs to close out the regular season on a positive note, or October won’t be coming for Porcello.