Tag: Rick Porcello

Is Red Sox’s Price-Sale-Porcello Trio a True Sustainable Super-Rotation?

In a discussion about just how good the Boston Red Sox‘s starting rotation is, there are two options: Going over it with a fine-tooth comb, or just buying into it as the greatest thing since the last greatest thing since sliced bread.

Given that the genesis of this discussion only began last week, it’s oh-so-easy to choose Door No. 2. 

If by some chance you missed it, the Red Sox acquired ace left-hander Chris Sale in a winter meetings blockbuster. This would be the same Chris Sale who’s finished no lower than sixth in the American League Cy Young voting five years running now. He hasn’t actually won one yet, but that could change.

Not that the Red Sox need that in order to claim a former Cy Young winner in their rotation, of course. David Price won it in 2012. Rick Porcello won it this season. The insta-analysis of them now joining forces with Sale: That’s some trio!

Arguably even the best in baseball, for that matter. But I’ll leave that to Chris Bahr of Fox Sports:

However, this is baseball we’re talking about. The translation rate of offseason hype into on-field results isn’t overwhelmingly positive. Just look at the 2015 San Diego Padres or the 2016 Arizona Diamondbacks. Or rather, please don’t. It’s not pretty.

Strictly based on that principle, some skepticism about Boston’s supposed super-rotation is warranted. Then there’s what the fine-tooth comb turns up.

Although he’s been the best lefty not named Clayton Kershaw since 2012, Sale appears to be past his peak dominance. He’s followed a 2.79 ERA between 2012 and 2014 with a 3.37 ERA the last two seasons.

And it’s no secret that there was a concerning wrinkle in his most recent effort. After pushing his average fastball up to 94.5 mph in 2015, Sale’s average dropped to 92.8 mph in 2016. His strikeout rate also fell, from 11.8 per nine innings to 9.3. 

According to the man himself, this year’s velocity drop was intentional. Sale told Scott Merkin of MLB.com that he wanted to stop throwing “every single pitch as hard as I can every inning, every out.” If so, it’s possible he could turn the velocity back on if the Red Sox asked him to.

What’s more likely, though, is that his best velocity is gone for good. With his age-28 season due up, Sale is already past the point where FanGraphsBill Petti found that starting pitchers begin to leak velocity. 

The Red Sox are already going through something similar with Price, who they have signed through 2022. He’s fresh off an age-30 season in which he finished with a modest 3.99 ERA. His average fastball was down to 92.9 mph from 94.2. That helped push his strikeout rate further south of its peak.

Worse, bad things happened to Price when the ball was put in play off him. He served up a career-high 30 home runs, and he allowed career-worst hard-hit and pull percentages.

For his part, sitting at just 90.2 mph with his heat didn’t bother Porcello as he carved out a 3.15 ERA in 223 innings in 2016. Nor did he suffer from striking out only 7.6 batters per nine innings. The 27-year-old was the same pitch-to-contact guy he’s always been.

Except, only far more successful than usual. Porcello‘s batting average on balls in play plummeted to a career-low .269. Conventional sabermetric thinking says that what goes down must now come up.

So, there you have it. These are the reasons to worry about Boston’s trio of aces. It could turn out that two of them are past their prime and one of them got seriously lucky when he broke out as an ace.

But for every “Yeah, but…” there’s an equal and opposite “Well, actually…”

Porcello‘s exit velocity and other batted-ball data send mixed signals about how good he was at managing contact in 2016. But after Craig Edwards of FanGraphs dove deeper into the numbers, he calculated that even Porcello‘s adjusted batting average on balls in play still would have been well below average.

That is, he truly earned his roaring success on balls in play. How? By pitching!

“He’s really improved as an overall pitcher,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who also oversaw Porcello with the Detroit Tigers, told ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber in November. “Just the ability to change speeds, I mean, his changeup, his curveball, he cuts the ball. He’s really got a better pulse of changing the [hitter’s] eyesight on various pitches. You really see the growth. I think he’s taken another step further from what he was in Detroit.”

Brooks Baseball backs up Dombrowski on all of this. Porcello does have a cutter now. He does change speeds better than he used to. He is more willing to change eye levels as well.

Put another way: Even Porcello‘s rate of 1.3 walks per nine innings in 2016 doesn’t capture how in command he was when he took the mound. He’s always been a strike-thrower. He’s now a strike-thrower with a purpose.

Same goes for Price. The veteran lefty walked only 2.0 batters per nine innings in 2016, continuing a longstanding trend of him being well under the league average. And despite all the hard contact he gave up, it wasn’t like he was consistently putting the ball right down the middle. Per Baseball Savant, he actually did that far less often than he did in 2015, when he finished second in the Cy Young voting.

So despite his 3.99 ERA, it’s no wonder Price was just aces for most of 2016. He was terrible in his first seven starts. After that, he had a 3.39 ERA in his last 28 starts.

Speaking of finishing strong, it’s a good look that Sale didn’t need an uptick in velocity to go from an 8.9 K/9 in the first half of 2016 to a 9.7 K/9 in the second half. This points to two things.

One: Even with less velocity, Sale’s stuff is filthy. Per Baseball Prospectus, the action on his four-seamer, sinker, changeup and slider all rated as elite. Here’s a taste:

Perhaps because he had been watching Porcello, Sale also started being more proactive changing eye levels in the second half. He began locating his hard stuff (namely his four-seamer) higher and his off-speed stuff lower.

Sale had to take matters into his own hands in part because White Sox catchers were doing him no favors. As Mike Petriello covered at MLB.com, Sale lost more runs to bad pitch framing than any other American League starter.

Simply switching uniforms will help solve that, and Sale could even end up on the other side of the spectrum if Christian Vazquez seizes Boston’s everyday catcher gig. Baseball Prospectus gives him 20.7 career framing runs in the majors, an absurd amount for a guy who’s only played in 112 games.

Vazquez’s framing would obviously also help Price and Porcello. And it’s worth noting none of Boston’s starters should suffer from the team’s defense.

The Red Sox were 12th in defensive efficiency in 2016. The only threat to their defense going forward is Pablo Sandoval returning to third base, but he figures to be on too short a leash to become a major threat. Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland should be a sizable defensive upgrade at first base.

It’s a big ol‘ complicated picture, but the bottom line is that the Red Sox will be happy with their rotation trio if the particulars live up to their most recent performances. Had the Red Sox had Sale, Price and Porcello in 2016, they would have combined for a 3.50 ERA and a whopping 679.2 innings.

There are indeed tangible reasons to believe this won’t happen, but they’re overwhelmed by the essential truth of the Sale-Price-Porcello trio: It’s a group of truly good pitchers. One of them has never thrown hard and the other two don’t throw as hard as they used to, but all three have proved they don’t need power to survive.

In basic terms: Believe the hype. These guys are good.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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Rick Porcello Is Worthy of Cy Young, but How Did Justin Verlander Lose?

Justin Verlander won the popular vote, which is worth about as much this week as it was last week.

There’s a system for these elections, and we all have to come together and accept Rick Porcello as our 2016 American League Cy Young winner. Hey, it’s not that bad.

Porcello had a Cy-worthy season, especially if you’re one of those who still believe a starting pitcher’s goal every time out is to try to win the game. Porcello had 22 of those much-derided but oh-so-valuable wins, and in his 20 starts from June 18 to the end of the season, his Boston Red Sox went 17-3.

If you’re looking for reasons the Red Sox won the AL East after two years finishing in last place, their ability to win nearly every game Porcello started for three-plus months figures prominently on the list.

And if you’re looking for reasons Porcello came out on top when the Cy Young Award was handed out Wednesday night, well, it’s hard not to look at the voting process. It’s hard to explain that while nearly half the voters put Verlander atop their ballot (14 of 30, as opposed to just eight for Porcello), most of the other half had him well down the list or out of the top five altogether.

If you’re going to take this year’s voting as a sign more voters believe in wins—Porcello and National League winner Max Scherzer led the two leagues in that much-maligned category—you have to acknowledge Porcello won mostly because a large majority of voters had him as their second choice.

Porcello won because he received 18 second-place votes, to only two for Verlander. With seven points for every first-place vote and four points for each second-place vote, Porcello had a commanding lead even before we get to the fact two writers both left Verlander off their five-pitcher ballot.

It’s a little curious the two who didn’t vote for Verlander (Fred Goodall of the Associated Press and Bill Chastain of MLB.com) both cover the Tampa Bay Rays, especially since in his only 2016 start against the Rays, Verlander allowed one earned run in seven innings. Maybe they were expecting a no-hitter, or maybe they were just impressed by Porcello going 5-0 in six starts against the Rays this year.

For the record, if Goodall and Chastain had put Verlander fourth or fifth, he still would have lost.

But hey, what’s a contested election without a bit of controversy in Florida?

And what’s a contested election in 2016 without celebrity involvement, with a little salty language mixed in? Kate Upton, Verlander’s fiancee, reacted to the vote with this tweet (Warning: NSFW language):

Verlander’s younger brother Ben, a minor league outfielder with the Detroit Tigers, tweeted the same chart Justin used before the results came out:

Justin himself is vacationing in Italy, which may be the reason he didn’t tweet a reaction himself. Besides that, he and Porcello were teammates for six seasons with the Tigers; don’t expect angry words between these two top candidates.

“Justin had a great year,” Porcello said on a conference call. “I learned a lot from him.”

They’re not alike as pitchers, with Verlander’s power showing in his big edge in strikeouts (254-189). Porcello relies more on his sinker and getting ground balls.

There are differences off the field, too, and not just because Verlander has become more of a celebrity himself. While Verlander can discuss his numbers and the relative merits of all the Cy Young candidates, Porcello said he barely thought about the award until the finalists were announced last week.

“I just figured whatever’s going to happen is going to happen,” Porcello said.

What happened was all those wins helped Porcello get a few first-place votes and a ton of second-place votes, and it ultimately helped him win an award Verlander took going away in 2011.

“I do believe there are a lot of things [about wins and losses] you can’t control, but I also believe there are a lot of things you can control,” Porcello said. “There’s a way to go out and pitch to win a game, and there’s a way to go out and pitch not to lose a game.”

He went on to talk about pitching aggressively, and how that can help a team play better defense and perhaps even get off the field and get back to scoring runs. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s clear Porcello (only 32 walks in 223 innings) pitched aggressively this season.

He pitched confidently, and he pitched like a winner. He pitched like a Cy Young winner, and regardless of whether you like the election process or agree with the result, he is a worthy winner.

As for anyone who wants to say Verlander was even more worthy, fine. But in this race, finishing second isn’t all that bad.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Rick Porcello Wins 2016 AL Cy Young Award: Voting Results and Comments

What a difference a year makes. In 2015, Rick Porcello had one of the worst seasons of his MLB career. In 2016, the Boston Red Sox ace is the American League Cy Young Award winner.

MLB shared the news on Twitter:

Below are the full results from the Cy Young vote, per the Baseball Writers’ Association of America:

Based on this year’s numbers, Porcello’s win wasn’t a surprise. At the least, he was as good as fellow finalists Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber:

At the beginning of the season, many fans in Boston likely expected a Red Sox starting pitcher to be among the Cy Young finalists. The team spent $217 million in the offseason to have David Price anchor the rotation, in part due to Porcello’s lackluster first year with the team.

However, Price and Porcello swapped roles. The latter became Boston’s best pitcher, while the former was a high-priced disappointment.

During his six years with the Detroit Tigers, Porcello showed signs of promise but often failed to find much consistency from one start to the next. The Red Sox acquired him in December 2014 and signed him to a four-year, $82.5 million deal the following April.

At the time, the contract looked risky, and Boston may have had buyer’s remorse after Porcello finished 2015 with a 9-15 record and a 4.92 ERA.

In an interview with the Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier, Porcello said he felt a lot of pressure during his debut campaign with the Red Sox:

I wouldn’t say that the contract itself entirely was a factor last year. I think that coming to a new place, teammates, organization, fans, all of that collectively, Boston, the Red Sox, all of that collectively was something that I have a lot of respect for. I wanted to put my best foot forward. It really took an adverse effect. It kind of got worse and worse as the season went on. The more I tried to get better and produce, it didn’t happen. It went in the opposite direction.

Porcello’s improved level of comfort showed in his walk rate. He averaged a career-low 1.29 walks per nine innings in 2016.

His turnaround will provide optimism to the team, which will hope Price has a similar improvement in his second year with the Red Sox.

The big question will be how much—if any—Porcello’s performance was an outlier relative to the rest of his career.

Cliff Lee had a similar arc with the Cleveland Indians. He went from having a 6.29 ERA in his age-28 season in 2007 to winning the 2008 Cy Young before cementing himself as one of MLB’s best pitchers.

Porcello has always had the tools to become a top-end starter. Now, he may be putting it all together.

As much as they spent to bolster the rotation last year, starting pitcher is an area of concern for the Red Sox. Clay Buchholz continues to be erratic, and the Drew Pomeranz trade was a flop in the second half.

If Porcello carries his 2016 numbers over to 2017, then he can help compensate for the rest of the rotation’s problems. Should he regress back to previous years, though, it will further exacerbate the problem.


Stats are courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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Rick Porcello’s Rapid Rise Gives Red Sox Postseason Ace They Need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello loves to fly fish whenever work doesn’t get in the way. This year, he may reel in the American League Cy Young Award or baseball’s ultimate catch—a World Series ring.

Porcello’s semi-secret New England fishing spot is nearby a home he has in Vermont, located close to the Massachusetts border. He also fly fishes in both salt and fresh water near the Red Sox spring training home in Fort Myers, Florida.

Porcello (22-4) sees a real-life connection between casting for rainbow trout in his native New Jersey and pitching to Mike Trout at Fenway Park.

“The fishing carries over to baseball,” Porcello told B/R. “If I’m mentally drained and need my escape, that’s usually what I go to. It helps me clear my head. If I have an off day, or a morning where I don’t have a lot going on that day. It’s not very often. I try to mix it in.”

The daily catch varies by season and location; just as successful pitches in baseball vary based on opponent and location. Thursday, Porcello starts for the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS at Cleveland

Any mention of Red Sox and fishing allows for no more than two questions before Ted Williams enters the conversation. Williams is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Fishing Hall Fame and the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.

“I’m aware of the three Hall of Fames he’s in,” Porcello said.

The Marine Corps Hall of Fame is probably out of the question, but is Porcello gunning for either a spot in Cooperstown or Springfield, Missouri—where the Fishing Hall of Fame will soon be located.

“I’m gunning for a World Series, and maybe down the line, some kind of award.”

Monday, Porcello was named American League Pitcher of the Month for September. The “Comeback Player of the Year” is a strong possibility, but the honor bearing the name of the once-upon-a-time Red Sox pitcher Young would be his top individual prize in 2016.

Porcello said he’s “simply honored” to be in the Cy Young conversation. He led the American League with 22 wins, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to reach that number in a season since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez won 23 in 1999.

Porcello finished second in the American League with a 1.01 WHIP. Detroit’s Justin Verlander’s was lower by .01. His 3.15 ERA was fifth league-wide. Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays captured the ERA title (3.00), helped by his dominant performance against Boston (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) on Sunday

Porcello’s consistency in delivering quality starts in 2016 was pivotal in Boston’s AL East title run. The Red Sox were coming off back-to-back last place finishes this year. Starting on July 29 this year, Porcello strung together 11 consecutive starts of seven innings or more in which he allowed three runs .

“He’s a model of consistency. He’s been so strong. He’s been so consistent. It’s a combination of multiple things: a talented guy, a well-prepared pitcher and an extremely competitive one,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Porcello was traded to the Red Sox from Detroit before the 2015 season in a deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers. Porcello, a lean 6-foot-5, 205-pound righty, finished 2015 at 9-15 with a portly 4.92 ERA and 1.360 WHIP in only 172 innings. He landed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps muscle on July 31. 

His keys to finding success in 2016 were mental and mechanical. 

“A lot of [my offseason] was spent working on my delivery. Something I’ve always battled in my career is trying to find the check points in my delivery, and being able to maintain that over the course of a season. That was my major focus. That was one of the big things that was off last season. That was in addition to my normal workouts and conditioning,” he said.

Porcello spoke to B/R at length in a one-on-one before the Red Sox clinched a playoff spot with a 6-4 victory here on Sept. 24.

Then Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington signed Porcello to a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension in April of 2015 that kicked in this season. That contract extension, Porcello said, brought up a lot in conversation as to why he struggled.

The contract wasn’t an added pressure point for Porcello. 

“I went back and forth in my head trying to figure out why I was putting so much pressure on myself. It wasn’t the contract that was doing it. I was coming into a new environment. New coaching staff. New organization. New teammates. New city. I wanted to show them all what I could do. I ended up being my own worst enemy,” he said.

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski told B/R he believed Porcello had “No. 1 starter” potential when he drafted Porcello out of high school in 2007 as GM of the Detroit Tigers. Drombrowski was hired by the Red Sox on Aug. 18 of last year after the team fired Cherington.

Porcello’s contract, along the $183 million combined committed to Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, fueled much acrimony last season among citizens of Red Sox Nation and media types who report on the team. 

“He was probably doing things he normally wouldn’t do,” Dombrowski said. “Rick is more of a two-seam, sinker-ball type of guy, with command of his pitches. It’s a better position than where he’s constantly using the four-seamer trying to overpower hitters. That’s what he was trying to do [last year]. A lot of time, people put those expectations on themselves because they think they need to do that in order to live up to big-dollar situations.“

Dombrowski’s hiring to command the Red Sox front office coincided with Porcello’s return off the disabled list. 

“He (then) looked like the Rick Porcello that I had always seen. He lived with the two-seamer and really commanded the strike zone. The other difference, this year, is that he’s in a much more comfortable situation coming back in the second year. You can also just see the maturity in pitching, the mix of pitches and the command of the strike zone,” Dombrowski said. “But all of sudden you see him elevate the fastball a little bit more than he used to, and pitch in and out more than he used to. So I just think you see the normal, natural development and maturity of a young pitcher who is a quality pitcher, not overpowering, but has learned to pitch with his stuff and get people out.”

Porcello’s regular scouting regimen is simple yet effective. The day before each start, he breaks his opposing lineup into two parts. He will spend about an hour watching 60 to 70 pitches each batter has faced in the past week. He will scout five batters on the first day and four on the day he starts.

“I’ll be looking at what hitters have done in the past week, because they can change. Some guys have been hitting the fastball in the past couple of weeks, then they transition and start hitting a breaking ball. Or they’re covering different areas of the strike zone. So I want to be aware of what they’re feeling now. And it’s what I see in the game. So if I’m establishing my fastball, and I see that’s beating hitters or getting on guys, I’m more apt to be aggressive and stay hard with them. And vice versa,” he said. “I see what they’re doing. If they’re aggressive in the count. What counts they don’t want to be in. Take that, try to identify their weaknesses, take my strengths and try to apply it all.”

Two hours before his Sept. 24 start against the Rays, Porcello was relaxing on a couch in the visitor’s clubhouse as Latin pop music blared throughout the room. His concentration wandered between a no-stakes, two-man card game with teammate Marco Hernandez, his smartphone and a pair of TVs showing college football games, including Florida State’s victory over South Florida.

Once Porcello was left alone, he was left alone. Aaron Hill jokingly offered him a beer and Sandoval (on the DL but in town to work out with the team) flicked Porcello’s ear as he walked past. One would not know he was pitching that day unless they had seen the lineup card.

He allowed three earned runs in 6.1 innings with eight hits, nine strikeouts and only one walk in that outing. His fastball got up higher than it should have, allowing the Rays to stay in the game until a late Red Sox rally. Where a game such as that might have meant a loss in 2015, it was simply another challenge met and conquered in 2016.

“I definitely made a lot of mistakes, especially early on in the game and then after the inning where they scored those runs, I was able to settle back down and started executing my pitches better,” he said after that game. “I don’t know if it’s the mistakes or the situation. It’s every pitcher’s battle when you get into a tough situation and have some runners on base. You’ve got to make some pitches. There’s two ways you can go. You can settle down and execute a pitch. Or you make a mistake and basically play into the hitter’s hand. I’ve been doing a lot better situation of that this year.”

After more than a full calendar year with the Red Sox, Dombrowski is fully confident that the more-mature 2016 Porcello is the long-term rule, rather than the exception.

He cites evidence to back that up in Porcello’s performance.

“More changeups, breaking balls, mixing pitches much more. When he was a youngster, he was a two-pitch pitcher—fastball and change. He’s brought the curveball in recent years. He’s got the cutter, the two-seamer and four-seamer,” Dombrowski said. “Now, I think the mix of pitches and the comfort of throwing any pitch at any time, with the command that he has, when he’s behind in the count, is the maturity aspect you’re talking about. You have to have the ability to do that, and he does have the ability to do that.”

The Red Sox went 25-8 in games started by Porcello in 2016. His only loss in 16 starts at Fenway Park this season came in spite of a one-run, eight inning effort on Sept. 14. Baltimore beat Boston 1-0.

Porcello’s 2016 masterpiece, at least until now, was an 89-pitch complete-game 5-2 victory over the Orioles on Sept. 19. Sixty-five of his pitches were strikes. He struck out seven batters and allowed four hits without walking a batter. Porcello threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 32 batters and went to a three-ball count once. 

He demonstrated, at least for one night, thorough mastery of all five of his pitches: the two-seam and four-seam fastballs, the changeup, the slider and the curve.

“That’s anybody’s ideal outing—to have all your weapons working. The reality is that doesn’t happen very often. It’s really hard to do. That was a really good night for me against a good lineup. In order to beat those guys, you have to have all them going. It just happened at the right time. It’s what I’m looking for. It doesn’t always happen. If I can have my fastball command, and at least one or two off-speed pitches, then I can manage that and be OK.”

It was during that start against the Orioles on Sept. 19, when a sinker ball got up and away from Porcello, plunking the combustible Manny Machado in the back. AL home run leader Mark Trumbo was on deck.

Even though there was no obvious intent, Machado glared at Porcello and the two exchanged words. Porcello’s NSFW reply was caught by TV cameras.

“We were just walking to first base, talking — talking like human beings. Nothing much was said,” Machado told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “We all know, I know, he doesn’t want to hit me in that situation.” 

Porcello’s name was familiar to many Red Sox fans when he joined the team. He hit then Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis in 2009 at Fenway Park. Youkilis charged the mound and both benches would eventually clear.

“I can honestly say in both of those situations (Youkilis or Machado) I had no intention of hitting those guys. My reaction is basically a reaction to their reaction. It is always an emotional, heat-of-the-battle type of thing. Nobody wants to get hit by a fastball. Whether it’s 88 or 98, it’s going to hurt. I can completely understand that. That would be my natural reaction, to be pissed off and I’d want to say something, too.”

Porcello said he had yet to speak with Machado since the Sept. 19 game.

“I talked to Youkilis once a couple of years ago when he was with Chicago. We happened to be walking out of the ballpark at the same time. Just briefly, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ I don’t even think he recognized me. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Machado. It’s really not necessary for us to talk about it afterward. We’re competing. That’s the way it should be. If I hit him in the back and everything is roses, it wouldn’t feel right. It’s not like I want to hurt him or he wants to hurt me.”

His Cy Young push, meanwhile, has won over hearts and minds across Red Sox Nation.

“Not because he’s my boy—but he’s got the inside track. He’s got better numbers than everybody else,” Red Sox DH David Ortiz told B/R/ “More wins. We are where we’re at because of his performance. I’ll leave it up to the voters, but I’d vote for him. 100 percent.”

The Red Sox paid David Price and Porcello a combined $52.5 million in salary in 2016. They totaled 39 wins in the regular season. Yet, neither has a postseason victory in nine combined starts.

“Once I found out (Price) signed here, it was awesome. He’s made a huge impact on our team. I’ve learned a lot watching him. How to maintain that even keel and demeanor, the focus and competitiveness. And the great things he brings that you don’t see on a day-to-day basis,” Porcello said. 

And when Price was struggling earlier this season, Porcello kept his distance. “It’s like, the more someone tries to offer help, they can make it more frustrating. It’s like, ‘I’m really good, I can work through this.’ At least that’s the way I am. I’m a leave-me-alone sort of guy. David’s accomplished so many things in this game. What am I going to tell him that he doesn’t already know?”

Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist who covers baseball for Bleacher Report. He is a columnist for the Boston Herald and tweets @RealOBF. 

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Rick Porcello’s Red Sox Resurgence Worth Every Penny of Big-Money Extension

The days Rick Porcello doesn’t start for the Boston Red Sox, they’re barely a .500 team.

It’s true. The Sox are 19-6 in Porcello‘s 25 starts, after their 10-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night. They’re 49-47 in their other 96 games.

So maybe that four-year, $82.5 million contract wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

The Red Sox have a real chance to go worst to first. Their win Friday alongside Toronto’s stunning loss in Cleveland left the Sox just half a game behind the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East.

Porcello has already made just as dramatic a turnaround, going from “What were they thinking?” to “Where would they be without him?” in the space of a year.

A year ago Friday, he was still on the disabled list with a 5-11 record and 5.81 ERA. In 33 starts since then, he’s 21-7 with a 3.20 ERA. He’s tied with J.A. Happ for the major league lead with 17 wins this year, and while that has a lot to do with Porcello and Happ also being one-two in the American League in run support, it’s a reminder of how important his starts have been to Boston.

As the Red Sox were pulling away from the Tigers on Friday night, bouncing back after Thursday’s tough loss, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted another way to look at it:

Yes, it helps that the Sox score a lot of runs when Porcello pitches. They’ve been in double digits his last two starts, and they’ve scored eight or more in eight of his 17 wins.

But it helps just as much that Porcello has seven starts in which he has gone at least seven innings while allowing no more than two earned runs. He’s done it in each of his last three starts, helping spark a run in which the Red Sox have won seven of their last eight.

Their starting pitching has been outstanding this month, with David Price improving and Drew Pomeranz starting to look like the pitcher they thought they traded for last month. But Porcello is the one who has been most consistent, the one who has most resembled an ace.

He’s also the one who has been spectacular at home, with a 12-0 record and 2.96 ERA in 13 Fenway Park starts.

Friday’s start was sort of at home, too, because Porcello spent his first six major league seasons with the Tigers. He hadn’t pitched at Comerica since 2014, before the Tigers traded him away because they didn’t want to give him the contract he eventually signed with the Red Sox.

“I think the one thing was that we weren’t sure as time went on if he would take the jump to be a top-of-the-rotation guy once we had him,” Dave Dombrowski told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. “We looked at him maybe as a middle-of-the-rotation type.”

Dombrowski was the Tigers general manager who traded Porcello away, and now he’s the Red Sox GM who has watched Porcello take over that top-of-the-rotation role.

That’s one thing that gave Friday’s start added significance. The other was that Porcello was matched up with Michael Fulmer. As Mario Impemba pointed out on the Fox Sports Detroit telecast, the Tigers basically traded Porcello for Fulmer in December 2014, because they got Yoenis Cespedes and two minor leaguers for Porcello and later traded Cespedes to the New York Mets for Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

Fulmer gave up the first six Red Sox runs Friday, but he’s been a minimum-salary bargain and a strong Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s also just 23 years old.

But Porcello is only 27.

People tend to forget that, because he debuted with the Tigers when he was 20 and already has 233 major league starts and 102 big league wins. In fact, as a Fox Sports Detroit graphic showed, Porcello has the most career wins of any major league pitcher 27 or younger, ahead of Madison Bumgarner (97) and Chris Sale (71).

Among those not on the list are Stephen Strasburg and Jacob deGrom, not just because they have fewer wins but also because they’ve already turned 28. Porcello‘s 28th birthday isn’t until December.

By that time, he will likely have pitched in his fourth postseason. The first three came with the Tigers, who only used him as a starter for two games, both in 2011. His last postseason appearance came in relief in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS, against the Red Sox at Fenway.

Assuming the Red Sox get there this year, you can bet Porcello will be a starter. He might not be the Game 1 starter, but the way he has pitched this season, that might not be the worst idea.

You know what else wasn’t the worst idea: Trading for Porcello and immediately signing him to a $20 million-a-year contract.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Shane Greene Already Looking Like a Great Fit in the Tigers’ Retooled Rotation

The Detroit Tigers possess no ordinary starting rotation. At least, not during their four-year postseason run that preceded this campaign. The likes of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price and Rick Porcello have combined to make them the most dominant group in the American League.

Want proof? Since 2011, Tigers’ starters have recorded more wins, innings pitched and a higher K/9 than any other AL staff.

But last winter’s departures of Scherzer and Porcello—122 combined wins in the past four years—signaled a seismic shift in Motown. Minus two elite starters and with scant resources available in the farm system, Detroit needed external help.

Enter Shane Greene.  The lanky right-hander was acquired via trade last December and charged with filling some super-sized shoes.

Greene brought to the Motor City only 15 career major league appearances and five wins. All of these came last year with the New York Yankees. Before arriving in the Big Apple, he had compiled a 29-43 record in the minors with a 4.39 ERA—hardly prepossessing numbers.

Based on these credentials, Detroit’s newbie seems like a modest solution to a colossal problem. A Band-Aid applied to a six-inch gash.

But Greene performed admirably last season when called up by New York. More than that, he showed some signs that he could be a pitcher on the verge of breaking out.

At times he was unhittable in 2014, and Detroit saw this firsthand. The Tigers twice had the displeasure of facing Greene’s filthy offerings. His combined numbers in these outings were compelling: 2-0, 15 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 13 K.  

However, the righty remained plagued with inconsistency: Only six of his 14 starts were quality starts. Something was missing.

Greene’s pitching arsenal, including two-seam and four-seam fastballs, a cutter and a slider are all above-average pitches. It is this impressive kitbag that earned him a shot at the big show. But he lacked a quality changeup.

In his Yankees outings, his changeup was nearly nonexistent. According to FanGraphs, he used it only 4.3 percent of the time.

Greene recognized the need to put in the work and improve his changeup. He recently told Ashley Dunkak of CBS that “a lot of trial and a lot of error” may have finally led to a breakthrough. “I’ve been trying different changeup grips my whole career, and towards the end of the season last year I found one that I got pretty comfortable with…”

Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones saw plenty of potential in his changeup during the spring.  Jones predicted its usage would increase exponentially this season: “I think his ceiling is very high…and I think it’ll be even higher with the changeup…If he gets confident in it, he may use it 15 to 20 times,” he suggested to Dunkak.

Jones’ comments now seem quite prophetic. In Greene’s outing last week versus Minnesota—his first as a Tiger—13 of his 85 pitches (15.3 percent) were changeups.

The result? The right-hander had arguably the finest outing of his career. He gave up no earned runs in eight highly-efficient innings and got the victory. Greene may now be ready to take that step up to the elite level.

There is arguably nobody better to judge the quality of a pitcher’s offerings than the man catching them. Alex Avila has spent plenty of time receiving Greene since March. He was effusive in praising his battery mate when speaking to Dunkak:

He’s got four nasty pitches…His stuff is flat-out nasty, and he’s able to command it. When he’s able to command his pitches in the zone, he’ll have a lot of success because his stuff is really good. Having faced him last year, catching him during the spring, I’m very excited about his year … I think as he continues to develop and to figure himself out, he can win a lot of ball games.

There is no expectation that Greene will replace the output of 2013 Cy Young Award winner Scherzer. But, he may well be a very handy substitute for Porcello. In fact, the two share some striking similarities. The latter has achieved success through the years inducing ground balls. Last season, Greene’s 50.2 ground-ball percentage was 1.2 percent higher than Porcello’s. They are also both 26 years old and neither is vertically challenged—Greene is one inch shorter at 6’4”.

Of course, Porcello’s 75 career wins currently dwarf Greene’s six. But history does not determine the future, and Greene may still outperform the Red Sox hurler in the months and years to come. He will cost a lot less, too.

Earlier this month, Porcello signed a lucrative multi-year deal with Boston.  

With Porcello’s contract heading into its final year in 2015, the Tigers knew he was a pricey proposition with no guarantee of returning. On the other hand, newcomer Greene will be under team control at least through the 2022 season while earning just above the league minimum this year.

Greene’s contract will be also be highly beneficial for Detroit, who would prefer to avoid exceeding the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million. Their current total payroll sits at just over $173 million, according to ESPN.

Of course, things need to be kept in perspective. Greene’s six career wins are just that—six wins. He still has everything to prove. However, he and his fellow Detroit starters are showing that their staff may not be the fallen giant that many people suspected.

If Greene and the others can maintain their momentum, they may yet prove to be the equal of any Tigers rotations of the recent past.

All stats in the this article are courtesy of FanGraphs

Hit me up on Twitter: @jdunc1979

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Red Sox Roll the Dice on Rick Porcello’s 2014 Breakout with Monster $82.5M Deal

When the Boston Red Sox traded Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello last December, they signaled that they were willing to roll the dice on the hurler’s big 2014 breakout.

Now they’re really rolling the dice on that breakout, suddenly putting an $82.5 million wager on it.

Not long after the club opened its season with an 8-0 drubbing of the Philadelphia Phillies, Porcello and the Red Sox basically made a joint announcement of the new deal. The Red Sox announced on Twitter that they had signed Porcello to a four-year extension that starts in 2016, and the 26-year-old right-hander shared his half of the story at The Players’ Tribune:

Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported the agreement was for $82.5 million. Porcello gets a $500,000 signing bonus and will earn $20 million in 2016 and 2017, and $21 million in 2018 and 2019.

Now that we’re all clear on the details, we can get this out of the way: HOLY SMOKES IS THAT A LOT OF MONEY FOR RICK PORCELLO.

Porcello may be coming off a 2014 season that saw him post career bests in ERA (3.43) and innings pitched (204.2), but in six seasons he owns a modest 4.30 ERA and, if you’re into metrics, just a 4.03 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). According to FanGraphs, park- and league-adjusted versions of ERA and FIP rate Porcello as about a league-average pitcher for his career.

Yes, the cost of good pitching is awfully high these days. But the cost of league-average pitching? It hadn’t risen to around $20 million per year. Not until now, anyway.

On that note, first things first: Hats off to Porcello for securing such a deal.

He’s going to be getting a heck of a raise on the $12.5 million he’ll make this year. And though he signed away a chance to hit free agency after this season, in doing so he avoided sharing a market with high-profile aces like Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, David Price and Doug Fister. And when he hits the market after 2019, he’ll only be coming off his age-30 season. He’ll still be young by free-agent standards.

If you ask the man himself, there’s also the reality that Boston is the right place for him. He said in his column that people around him “really sold” him on the Red Sox organization, which he feels “offers every opportunity” for players to succeed.

But now for the hard part: It may make loads of sense for Porcello, but why does this extension make sense for the Red Sox?

Not surprisingly, general manager Ben Cherington gave a straightforward answer.

“Aside from the pitcher that he is, which obviously we really like, getting to know Rick more over the course of the winter and spring, he has a lot of qualities we really admire,” he said, per Speier. “We felt like he was the type of person we want here, one of the type of guys we want here, and we see him as a really important part of our team the next several years.”

If there’s an important phrase here, it’s “the next several years.” That’s not the same as “a long time,” and that hints as the main attraction for the Red Sox.

As Mike Petriello of FanGraphs and Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk noted, Porcello’s youth and respectable track record stood a good chance of earning him a nine-figure contract in free agency. Something comparable to Homer Bailey’s deal might have been in the cards, meaning something in the neighborhood of six years and $100-120 million.

Had the Red Sox done a deal like that with Porcello, they might have secured his services for longer and for a smaller average annual value. But due to pitchers’ inherent frailty, longer deals aren’t necessarily a good idea when it comes to them. To that end, the Red Sox’s paying a premium so they could limit their commitment to Porcello to four years makes a certain amount of sense. 

Especially given that these four years should all be prime years. Neither Porcello’s health nor his production are likely to completely break down over the life of his four-year contract. As Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors suggested, that actually makes Porcello’s four-year deal a safer bet than that of James Shields, even though the latter has a much stronger track record.

This, however, only means that Porcello’s new deal shouldn’t turn into a complete disaster. His actually living up to it won’t be so easy.

Throughout Porcello’s career, there’s really only one season in which he’s resembled anything even remotely close to a $20 million-per-year pitcher. This, of course, was last year.

And to an extent, it was a long time coming. Porcello had a reputation of being a guy who was better than his surface stats indicated. His real crime wasn’t that he was a bad pitcher, but that he was a ground-ball-oriented pitcher on Detroit Tigers teams that never had good defenses.

In light of that, it looks good on Porcello that, as Speier noted in his column, his performance finally improved when Detroit’s defense finally improved for the 2014 season. And now that he’s on a Red Sox team that has the goods to be one of baseball’s best defensive clubs, it looks like he’s in a perfect spot for his hard-fought improvement to carry over.

But it’s not actually going to be that simple.

Though it looks like Porcello may have benefited from a defensive improvement in 2014, he might actually have simply benefited from good luck. The two best ways for a pitcher to make his own luck are to collect strikeouts and ground balls, and these figures show he took a step back in both departments:

In Porcello’s defense, this was partially by design.

His strikeout and ground-ball rates may have paid the price, but one thing he did in 2014 was become less predictable. Brooks Baseball shows that he trusted his four-seamer and a cutter almost as much as he trusted his sinker, and Baseball Savant shows that he was more willing to try to change hitters’ eye levels with four-seamers up in the zone.

But while these changes may have resulted in positive results despite a lesser strikeout rate and a lesser ground-ball rate, that’s a hard performance to sustain. The script on him has been flipped. Whereas he was once a guy who always underperformed, now he’s a guy coming off a season in which he seemingly overperformed.

That’s another way of saying the Red Sox were already betting against Porcello returning to earth in 2015. Now they’re betting on him staving off a return to earth for the next five years. What was an intriguing gamble has turned into something more like a reckless gamble.

The Red Sox aren’t going to go up in flames if the deal doesn’t work out, mind you. They’re loaded with cash, and, again, the relative brevity of Porcello’s contract is a good thing. They’re not signing up for a long-term headache, a la the Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez contracts of yesteryear.

There is, however, a very real chance that they won’t get the pitcher they’re paying for. They may be hoping for the new Rick Porcello, but what they may get is the old Rick Porcello.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Rick Porcello, Red Sox Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

The Boston Red Sox wasted little time locking up Rick Porcello, who would have been a free agent after this season. According to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe, the team announced it has agreed to a four-year extension worth $82.5 million with the 26-year-old right-handed pitcher.      

Speier provided the yearly breakdown of the contract:

Porcello gets limited no-trade protection, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

He becomes the highest-paid pitcher in team history per average annual value, per Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

The Red Sox acquired Porcello in December 2014 for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. With Porcello’s contract expiring after the 2015 season, some wondered if he would sign a multi-year extension with Boston before hitting free agency.

On Sunday, Porcello announced that once the season got underway, any extension talks would be tabled.

“I don’t want any distractions when we start the season,” he said, per WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “I just want to focus on pitching.”

Porcello is coming off a 2014 season in which he went 15-13 and posted an ERA of 3.43. In terms of advanced metrics, he finished with a 3.67 FIP and 3.68 xFIP, while giving the Detroit Tigers 2.7 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.

The Guardian‘s Jonathan Bernhardt wonders whether Boston is paying Porcello a little more than his market value:

Hardball Talk’s Matthew Pouliot countered that $20 million a year for Porcello isn’t all that crazy:

ESPN’s Jason Wojciechowski pointed out that the extension allows Porcello to cash in once again in a few years:

Whether or not you believe the Red Sox made a bad deal, they ensured that Porcello won’t be leaving any time soon via free agency. In addition, the length of the contract means Boston has a little more long-term flexibility than it would have with a six- or seven-year deal.

Signing Porcello to an extension would also seem to take the Red Sox out of the Cole Hamels hunt once and for all, though that remains to be seen.    

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Boston Red Sox’s Biggest Steal at the MLB Offseason’s 2-Month Mark

The Boston Red Sox are one of baseball’s most active teams this offseason.  In the last eight weeks, they added high-priced All-Stars to bolster their lineup and made several moves to strengthen their depleted starting rotation.  Boston also re-signed arms for its bullpen and recently completed a trade for a new backup catcher.

But of everything the Red Sox have done so far, which deal brought them the most bang for their buck in return?  Which transaction qualifies as the biggest steal to this point?

The answer is the acquisition of Rick Porcello.

The Red Sox traded Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to the Detroit Tigers for Porcello.  Wilson and Speier are a pair of young pitching prospects that Boston was not concerned about letting go of.  In his analysis of their value in the trade, Ian Cundall of SoxProspects.com wrote:

[Wilson] doesn’t have back of the bullpen potential, but could comfortably slot into a sixth inning or maybe even seventh inning role on some nights, especially against right-handed dominant lineups. The Red Sox, however, have a surplus of potential relievers who have a similar profile in the high minors, thus in dealing him they move from a position of strength. … 

Speier is a long way from the majors and already has Tommy John surgery on his resume, making him a lottery ticket at this point. … Speier doesn’t have much physical projection, but could develop an average three-pitch mix with some upside potential. 

The meat of the deal was clearly Porcello for Cespedes.

Both players are in line to become free agents after the 2015 season.  The Red Sox can extend a qualifying offer to Porcello that would result in a compensatory draft pick should he decline it.  As noted by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, Cespedes‘ contract does not include that provision, which was likely the impetus for the inclusion of the two minor leaguers in the trade.

Cespedes was an All-Star in 2014 who hit 22 home runs along with 100 RBI.  But he also batted .260 with an on-base percentage of just .301.  After adding free-agent Hanley Ramirez earlier this offseason, the Red Sox have a new slugger who can play left field and replace Cespedes‘ bat in the lineup.  Boston also owns more than enough outfield depth in Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava.

In late October, a New York Daily News report from Bill Madden stated that Cespedes and the Red Sox were unlikely to agree on a new contract after Cespedes fired his previous agent and hired Jay-Z’s Roc Nation:

Roc Nation, which — like it did with Robinson Cano — is expected to seek a much larger, long-term contract and make a big splash about it. Two other reasons the Red Sox are open to dealing Cespedes are his open disenchantment with Boston and his refusal to pay any heed to their coaches. “He marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him,” said a Red Sox insider.

Clearly, Boston was happy to move Cespedes.  Receiving Porcello in return has the potential to provide enormous dividends for the Red Sox in 2015.

In a rotation that currently includes Clay Buchholz, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Joe Kelly, Porcello is the one who appears most likely to grab the reigns as the No. 1 starter.  Even though he has six full seasons as a major leaguer under his belt, Porcello is still just 26 years old.  In 2014, he threw a career-high 204.2 innings with a career-low ERA of 3.43.  Porcello also led the American League in shutouts last year with three.

Over his first five seasons, Porcello posted a combined 4.51 ERA.  Via Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal, Red Sox manager John Farrell credits Porcello‘s improved curveball for his better 2014 numbers.

Particularly this past year, where he’s starting to use his curveball a little bit more, it spread the strike zone top and bottom a little bit more consistently where his sinker becomes that much more effective,” said Farrell.

Speier suggests Porcello was actually that good all along:

However, his breakthrough may have had as much to do with the defense behind him as with his own work on the mound. A pitch-to-contact sinkerballer, Porcello had suffered for years as a result of a Tigers infield that had myriad defensive deficiencies. The team upgraded in 2014, with Nick Castellanos taking over at third for Miguel Cabrera, Cabrera moving to first and Gold Glove candidate Ian Kinsler joining the club as a second baseman. The result was a year in which Porcello‘s actual ERA reflected the kind of contact that he elicits, as well as the frequency of his strike-throwing (he averages 5.5 strikeouts and just 2.2 walks per nine innings in his career).

If Porcello can repeat his 2014 success in 2015, the trade should be a huge win for the Red Sox.

Last summer, they dealt impending free-agent ace Jon Lester for Cespedes.  In essence, Boston gave up two months of Lester on a last-place team this year for a full season of Porcello next year—when the outlook is suddenly much brighter.

It’s hard not to view that as a steal.


Statistics via Baseball-Reference.com.

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Is the Red Sox’s Post-Winter Meetings Rotation Enough to Contend?

Shoot for Jon Lester—even if you miss, you’ll land Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson.

OK, so that’s not exactly how the saying goes. But it is the reality for the Boston Red Sox, who whiffed on a chance to bring back Lester at the MLB winter meetings but did manage to revamp their starting corps, which posted an unsightly 4.36 ERA in 2014.

The question now: Did Boston do enough to address its most glaring weakness and hurl itself back into contention?

Let’s look at the new additions one by one.

Porcello is the best prize of the bunch, which is why he cost Boston a key trade chip. To net the soon-to-be 26-year-old right-hander, Boston sent Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers

Boston, you’ll recall, acquired Cespedes last July at the deadline for, that’s right, Lester, putting a punctuation mark on the Porcello-as-Lester-consolation-prize angle.

So Porcello isn’t Lester. What is he? How about a sinkerballer with excellent control, who averaged just 1.8 walks per nine innings last year while posting a 3.43 ERA in 204.2 innings?

Here’s how Boston GM Ben Cherington summed the situation up, per ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes: “If we had known in July we weren’t going to sign Jon Lester, I think we would have been happy to trade for Rick Porcello.”

Then there’s Miley, the other trade acquisition. Or, make that pending trade acquisition. Here’s more from Edes:

The Sox also have a deal in place in which they will acquire Miley from the Diamondbacks for pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. Arizona GM Dave Stewart, who on Wednesday denied even discussing such a deal, told the Arizona Republic on Thursday that the clubs were still haggling over a minor leaguer who also will go to Arizona as part of the deal.

Let’s assume the trade goes through. What does the left-hander bring from the desert to Beantown? A shaky recent track record, for one, and some less-than-encouraging statistical trends.

Miley is a command guy. That’s his game, so it’s more than a little troubling to note that his walks per nine innings rose from 1.7 in 2012, his All-Star rookie campaign, to 3.4 last year.

He did set a career high in strikeouts with 183 and eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the second straight season. Plus, he just turned 28.

Last, and possibly least, is Masterson. The 29-year-old right-hander was an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians in 2013, but the bottom fell out in 2014.

Masterson was bad with the Indians, posting a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts. Then, after a deadline trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, he was abysmal, coughing up 24 runs on 35 hits in 30.2 forgettable frames.

And so he took what he could get on this crowded pitching market: a one-year, $9.5 million show-me deal from the Red Sox, confirmed Thursday by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com

In a way, it’s a good match: a pitcher trying to rehabilitate his value and a team one year removed from a World Series parade trying to rebound from a last-place, 91-loss season.

Again, though, is it enough? Can the Porcello/Miley/Masterson troika carry Boston past respectability and back to the top of the AL East?

Cherington doesn’t seem so sure; he told Edes that he engaged with James Shields’ agent at the winter meetings and is “waiting to see how the market develops for free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer.”

Plus, Edes speculates, Boston could be in on a range of potential trade targets, including the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Cole Hamels, and Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister of the Washington Nationals.

Whatever route they go, it’s clear the Red Sox can’t cross “starting rotation” off their winter shopping list just yet. 


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference

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