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Porcello, not Price should be the Red Sox’ top October starter

It’s not what anyone would have expected back in March, but somehow, Porcello has emerged as the clear choice in October.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Rick Porcello will likely make his last start of the regular season on Friday or Saturday. I don’t think we really need to see it, though, to know who should be starting Game 1 of the ALDS.

David Price’s last start doesn’t help his case, but it’s really just the final nail in the coffin. And that’s not intended to be an attack against Price. His season, obviously, is not what we’d hoped it would be, but that was locked in after those first six weeks. Everyone has bad outings, but since the middle of May, Price has been rock solid. An ace? Debatable. But certainly a guy who could be turned to in Game 1 without any shame.

But where Price struggled early, Porcello excelled. He pitched even better in that stretch like Price has ever since, with a 3.11 ERA, .638 OPS against, and a 46:10 K:BB to Price’s marks of 3.43, .706, and 171:35 (alright, Price arguably has him beat in that last one). If that 3.11 ERA sounds familiar, it’s also because that’s his season total. And while his results have remained the same, Porcello has only stepped forward in other departments. He’s struck out 137 since, and amazingly walked only 20. That OPS against is down to .626.

An ace? Not debatable. Yes. Absolutely yes.

The Red Sox are headed to the postseason, and while the order of the rotation on Opening Day might be influenced by contract size and the weight of a player’s reputation, come October it has to be all about merit. Price does have a lot of that based on both the past four months and the years preceding it. Some would cite his postseason numbers as a reason to go away from him, but frankly, there’s just too much noise involved in all but the most prolific of postseason resumes to draw any significant conclusions from them.

But if Price has merit, his comes more from reputation, and more recent results deserve greater consideration. Porcello’s 2016 is better than Price’s, and that’s true pretty much no matter where in the year you draw your arbitrary end points. When you have to go back to 2015 and beyond to make an argument for starting a game in October 2016, it’s not really an argument worth making.

We still don’t have any official word from John Farrell, but if the Red Sox can’t let themselves face the possibility of losing a series without giving Porcello every possible opportunity to pitch on full rest. He’s been their ace this year, and the playoff rotation should reflect that.