Less than a week ago I wrote about how Rick Porcello was performing just fine for the Boston Red Sox. During his start on Monday night, for four innings, Porcello was dominating and making me look like a writer that knows what he’s talking about. As every baseball writer learns constantly throughout the season, we don’t know nearly as much as we think. After shutting out the Cleveland Indians for four innings, Porcello was rocked for five runs combined in the fifth, sixth and seventh, ultimately leading to the 5-4 loss for the Sox.
Now there is still no reason to panic. If this is what the 2018 Sox look like when they slump, then everything is still fine. In fact, even after his most recent start, Porcello’s overall body of work still remains strong. However, the right-hander’s four starts in August have featured an alarming number of home runs, especially since he gave up three on Monday. That’s a bad thing since Porcello’s trouble with the long ball were a big reason he regressed so heavily last year following his 2016 Cy Young Award win. After allowing three dingers on Monday, Porcello has now been tagged for seven in his last four games (27 innings pitched). While he is still going deep into games along the way, rates of 25.0 percent on home run to fly balls and 2.33 home runs per nine innings are frightening numbers, small sample size be damned.
If you are looking for good news at this point, what I can tell you is that Porcello is usually better in September than in August, for whatever that’s worth. In fact, he has given up fewer than one home run per nine innings during the ninth month in two of his three previous seasons in Boston, with last year the outlier at 1.98. In addition, as long as we’re looking at a minuscule four-game sample, Porcello is still striking out 10 batters per nine innings, walking only 1.3, inducing ground balls at a 43.9 percent rate and producing an expected FIP (xFIP) of 3.20. This could very well be a small home run blip that will be straightened out. Tune in next week to find out.
With three losses in a row, the Red Sox have shown they aren’t completely unstoppable. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
Let’s not get too worried though. Sometimes slumps happen. (Chris Cotillo; MassLive)
Boston and Cleveland don’t have the same type of bullpen. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)
J.D. Martinez can be inserted in the lineup at any spot and still mash. (Jen McCaffrey; The Athletic) ($$)
It’s still possible for Dustin Pedroia to play again in 2018. (Nicole Yang; Boston.com)