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Daily Red Sox Links: Rick Porcello has been just right

Today we talk about Rick Porcello’s perfectly good season. Plus J.D. Martinez is incredible, Drew Pomeranz struggles and Brian Johnson’s versatility.

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MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start off with a scorching hot take: Rick Porcello is not going to win the American League Cy Young award this season.

As you probably know, he did win it in 2016, yet somehow the difference between the Porcello we’ve seen this season and the one from 2016 isn’t as drastic as you might think. On Tuesday night the right-hander threw seven dazzling innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, striking out 10 and allowing just one run. It was a welcome bounce back from the seven-run fiasco against the Toronto Blue Jays in his previous outing.

That type of seesawing is not indicative of a pitcher nearing the same level he was at when he won the top honor for a pitcher. Still, a look at Porcello’s overall work this season shows that he is actually striking out more batters (8.9 per 9 innings vs. 7.63) and inducing more ground balls (45.3 percent vs. 43.1 percent) than he did in 2016. He has also been the beneficiary of more soft contact (19.8 percent) and his peripherals are in the same ballpark as those from 2016. His FIP of 3.74 is up from 3.40, but his xFIP, which measures performance outside of defense-dependent instances, is actually lower this year (3.80) than in 2016 (3.89).

Now, this article is not trying to make the claim that 2018 Porcello and 2016 Porcello are the same. Far from it. His ERA is roughly a full run higher this year than it was in 2016 before he faced the Phillies. In addition, as great as a higher strikeout rate is, when its matched with elevated walk and home run rates, obviously more runs are going to across on his watch.

That’s exactly what happened when Porcello faced the Blue Jays and that’s what’s been more the norm of late. In his last six starts, Porcello is sporting a 4.55 FIP while walking 2.4 batters per nine innings and allowing home runs on more than 20 percent of the fly balls allowed.

So where does that leave Porcello? Well still in a good spot. Despite a relatively below average stretch the last 30 days, the Red Sox’s No. 2 starter (or No. 3 if you are a David Price guy like myself) has managed to put together a near facsimile of his Cy Young campaign and has shown himself capable of dominating against playoff-caliber teams, like he did on Tuesday against the Phillies. To borrow from a nursery rhyme, for a pitcher who has been hot and too cold in the last two seasons, getting him to be just right is working perfectly well.

J.D. Martinez was the best free agent signing of the offseason. I will go to the mat for that take. (David Schoenfield; ESPN)

Drew Pomeranz’s return to the bullpen did not go all that great. (Chris Cotillo; MassLive)

Nathan Eovaldi has been OK as a Red Sox. (Logan Mullen; NESN)

Brian Johnson can do it all. (Chris Cotillo; MassLive)

The Red Sox are best at home. (Jen McCaffrey; The Athletic) ($$)

Eduardo Rodriguez is going to be back before you know it. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)