Okay, okay, I get it. You hate Rick Porcello. You completely forgot how great this guy was all of last season in route to winning the Cy Young Award and every time he left a ball up in the zone, you jumped all over it. Anyone that has followed me over the years knows I’m a ride or die Rick Porcello guy, but it’s clear to see why.
The numbers for Porcello this season weren’t pretty, 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 203.1 innings, that much I’ll admit. When Porcello is commanding the zone, pounding it with the two-seamer and inducing ground ball outs, he’s a weapon especially with defenders like Pedroia, Moreland and Bogaerts behind him. The problem for Porcello far too often has been leaving the ball up in the zone. Porcello addmited as much, “Stop leaving pitches up and over the plate. That’s it. Everything else is fine. The executed pitches they’re not hitting. It’s just the mistakes.”
Porcello is at his best as I’ve said when he’s commanding the zone, getting ground ball outs with the two-seam and can mix in his good off-speed stuff while also throwing the four-seamer with command out of the zone to pick up punch outs. That was Rick Porcello last season when it all came together. That’s why I’m going with Porcello against the right-handed heavy Houston Astros team. If he’s locked in like we’ve seen at strecthes this season, then he makes for a great one-two punch that can compete with the likes of Verlander and Keuchel.
Porcello never changes his demeanor. He’s a blue-collared, pull-up-the-sleeves and get the job done guy. If he’s not pitching well, he’ll admit as much and say point blank that he needs to execute better. That’s the type of guy you want taking the ball for you in a pivotal series in October. We saw flashes of ’16 Porcello from 7/3 to 8/20 for example where over 9 starts he posted a 3.47 ERA and Boston won 5 of those games. Porcello never changes his appraoch each time out, and that’s what makes him a great pitcher.
Even on nights where Porcello didn’t have his very best stuff, he would battle through, come up with key outs and log deep into games preserving the bullpen. A bullpen that will now be the lifeblood of this Boston team in the postseason that includes $31 million lefty David Price. Price picked up Porcello over the last two starts of the season when he didn’t have his best stuff, and the Cy Young award winner surely appreciated the support.
If I were John Farrell, I would start Rick Porcello in Game 2. Follow up Chris Sale with the 2016 Cy Young Award winner. Not only will it break up the lefties pushing Drew Pomeranz to Game 3 back in Boston, but it allows Porcello to pitch on the road where he was much better this season. Additionally, Minute Maid Park ranked dead last in all of baseball in park factor at .822 runs according to ESPN making it the most pitcher-friendly park in baseball. Porcello was 4-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 14 road starts this season and a 1.25 WHIP. This is a no-brainer to me, go with the veteran pitcher who is better on the road against a lineup loaded with right-handers. Not to mention, Pomeranz was great pitching at Fenway this season at 10-3 with a 3.44 ERA.
Rick Porcello deserves to start Game 2 in Houston on Friday afternoon for the Red Sox. The case has been made and it gives Boston the best chance to win the series. Split up the lefites, throw Pomeranz at home and Porcello on the road and then go from there with Game 4. It’s that simple.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea if Pretty Ricky were to bring back his cap from last season for October either, just saying.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank