Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rick Porcello turnaround could help Bosox pull away

Porcello returning to 2016 form could help Bosox pull away
As late as June 2, the Boston Red Sox were just four games over the .500 mark. At that point, the team sat in third place in the AL East race, three games behind the arch-rival New York Yankees.
Flash forward a little more than seven weeks, and the Bosox have taken charge. They went 26-19 to flip the standings position, now leading the Yanks by 3.5 after the games of Saturday, July 22.
For the second straight season, Boston has an AL Cy Young Award front-runner. This time around, that top starting pitcher is lefty Chris Sale.
But last season’s top starter has struggled for much of the 2017 season. Rick Porcello won the 2016 AL Cy Young Award following the best season by far of his then eight-year big league career.
Porcello went 22-4 a year ago with a 3.15 ERA and 1.009 WHIP. He allowed just 193 hits over 223 innings with a 189/32 K:BB ratio.
Flash forward to this season, and Porcello’s numbers are nowhere near that level. The 28-year old righty has gone 4-12 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.436 WHIP. He has allowed 156 hits over 125.1 innings with a 115/24 K:BB mark.
Porcello has regressed to the type of pitcher he had been in his first seven seasons. That would be a nice, reliable, mid-rotation innings eater as opposed to a top of the rotation ace-caliber starter.
However, his recent starts have begun to signal what could be a turnaround towards numbers closer in line to last season.

Over his last five outings, Porcello has a 3.31 ERA. He has allowed just 32 hits over 32.2 innings with a 30/6 K:BB ratio. He also has just a .252 Batting Average Against in that period. Over a full season, that would be his second best mark, behind only last year’s Cy-winning campaign.
Boston skipper John Farrell was asked recently whether he thought that Porcello was regaining last year’s form.
“Oh yeah,” said Farrell, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “And you see it in his body language, the rhythm and pace he establishes in the game. All the while knowing he’s been pitching while, let’s face it, 50 percent of the time there have been zeroes on the board when he’s been on the mound. I think he’s done a very good job of pitching independent of that and just executing to the best of his ability.”
David Price returned from the Disabled List on May 29 and was increasingly looking like his own old, dominant self. That is, until he was roped around by the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. That should ultimately prove a blip on the veteran left-hander’s pitching ledger.
Sale is dominating. Price is back in top form. Lefty Drew Pomeranz has been strong. Last week, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez returned to the rotation and provided an encouraging outing.
If these last handful of starts are more indicative of what Boston can expect from Porcello from here on out, the Red Sox just might begin to run away with the division. It would also give the team a trio of strong, seasoned starters come the postseason.

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