Rick Porcello's miserable 2015 season took a turn for the worse in early August when he made his first-ever trip to the disabled list. When he returned from his triceps injury, Porcello enjoyed one of the finest stretches of his career. Over his final eight starts, Porcello put up a 3.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, and in a departure from his typical contact-friendly ways, he struck out 57 batters in 57 1/3 innings. Porcello threw his sinker more and got considerably more sink on it, frequently freezing batters in the process. Some owners may have missed this late surge, so you probably won't need to target Porcello before the late or reserve rounds in standard mixed leagues. He's worth a gamble there as one of this season's potential sleepers.
If you're a believe in advanced metrics, Rick Porcello should be one of your favorite bounceback candidates in baseball. His 4.92 ERA over 172 innings a year ago looks ugly, but he had one of the biggest separations between his ERA and FIP, which sat at 4.13 in his first season with the Red Sox. Porcello was, perhaps more than any player in baseball, hurt by the Red Sox defensive issues last season, and with improvements expected -- and a 3.53 second-half ERA to point to -- could he be a sleeper coming into the season? Porcello should be helped by the Red Sox defensive improvements, for sure, and an ERA in the 5.00 range seems unlikely. However, expecting him to hit his second-half mark seems unlikely as well, given his career. Porcello has an ERA below 3.50 just once, and has dramatically underperformed his FIP -- by more than half a run -- in five of his last six seasons. Porcello has had trouble with runners on base in his career, and that remained an issue for him a year ago, which makes it hard to buy into the metrics that suggest significantly better days ahead. Expect improvement, but it's hard to view him as anything more than a league-average pitcher given his track record.
Porcello credits going back to a pitch-mix dominated by his sinker for his improvement at the end of the 2015 season, the Providence Journal reports. "First and foremost, [it was] getting back to keeping the ball down and sinking the ball, especially early in the count," Porcello explained. "Trying to get weak contact early in the count is my strength. That's where we start." Porcello posted a 5.81 ERA in his first 20 starts while throwing more four-seam fastballs than he has in the past. He threw the four-seamer 31 percent of the time compared to 34 percent for the sinker, and opponents lit him up for 20 homers in 114.2 innings. After a stint on the disabled list gave him time to think, Porcello allowed a 3.14 ERA over his final eight starts while throwing the sinker 49 percent of the time compared to just 18 percent for his four-seamer.
Red Sox starter Rick Porcello gave up four runs on six hits and one walk while striking out eight over eight innings Tuesday in New York. The 26-year-old righty now has eight strikeouts in three of his last four outings, and he will go for his 10th win of the season while also attempting to get his ERA under 5.00 Sunday in Cleveland.
Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (8-14) gave up three runs (two earned) on 11 hits and a walk while whiffing eight over seven innings in a loss against the Rays on Wednesday. The knock on Porcello has always been his lack of strikeouts, but he's actually significantly improved in that category this year, with a K/9 that's now 7.68 -- two full points higher than his previous career best. The second half's been particularly intriguing, as he's got a solid 3.51 ERA while averaging close to a strikeout per inning. It seems like Porcello's been around forever, but despite the fact that this is his seventh full MLB season, he's still only 26, and it's not inconceivable to think that we haven't seen his best work.
Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits, walking two and striking out four over six innings of a 6-1 loss to Toronto on Friday night. Porcello (8-13, 5.16 ERA) has been much improved since returning from the disabled list in late August, but the Blue Jays have a way of slowing down the most effective pitchers. He was coming off a string of outings where he had completed at least seven innings, so it might be best to chalk this up to facing a stout offense, and give him the benefit of the doubt going forward.