Last year, he won the AL Cy Young award. This year? Completely different story.
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello has had a rough go of it so far in 2017. Through 14 starts, he’s just 3-8 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.51 WHIP.
Out of 41 qualifiers in the American League, Porcello’s ERA ranks 28th and his WHIP ranks 36th. In addition, his .310 BAA is fourth worst (38th).
Not exactly what Red Sox fans were expecting from the 6’5” sinkerballer after going 22-4 last year (led majors in wins) and winning his first ever Cy Young award.
The amount of hits Porcello has given up is particularly alarming. In nine of his 14 starts, he’s given up at least eight hits—including his last seven in a row (66 combined).
His 114 total hits allowed currently ranks tops in the majors.
So what’s the deal with Rick Porcello?
Known for his ground ball inducing ability, it simply hasn’t been the same this year—his GO/AO (ground out to air out) ratio is a career low 0.77 right now (1.38 career).
This helps to explain the struggles his sinker has given him. Through his first 13 starts, 45 of his 104 hits allowed came off his signature pitch, as well as seven of his 14 dingers allowed.
Fenway Park has also not been kind to Porcello. In eight starts at home, he has a 5.40 ERA. A huge step back from last season when he posted a 2.97 mark there in 16 starts.
Opponents are hitting .316 against him this year at Fenway, compared to .241 last year.
This season simply hasn’t seen Porcello meet expectations. Could his poor run support be playing a factor? After all, in eight of his 14 starts, his team has failed to score a run while he has been in the game (five of them at home). That can definitely start to get in a pitcher’s head and put pressure on him to be flawless.
Don’t forget—Porcello had the highest run support in the majors last year, receiving 7.6 runs per game.
Despite Porcello’s struggles this year, the Red Sox are still just two games behind the Yankees in the AL East with a 37-28 record. They’re also up 3.5 games to the second Wild Card team (Tampa Bay).
No reason to be concerned if you’re a Red Sox fan. If you have the reigning Cy Young winner who’s just 3-8, and you are where you currently are in the standings, I’d say you’re in a pretty good spot. Porcello’s a veteran and his mediocre year is something, you’d think, he’s currently working on to fix.
He still has more than half a season to turn this around. He’ll be fine.
If the Red Sox were scoring more runs for the guy, maybe things would be different. But who knows? Remember when teammate Chris Sale was getting NO run support and dominating early in the season? He’s gotten way more support lately, and he’s come back down to earth as a result.
Maybe some pitchers just pitch differently depending on how many runs their team scores for them.
The next start for Porcello will be Saturday at Houston. In two career starts against the Astros (once in 2013 and 2014), he’s 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA.