With the Red Sox being the home of Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and David Price, it’s rare to find yourself in a situation where you are truly thankful for a guy like Rick Porcello, but here we are. After being told that he wasn’t going to get a contract extension before the season started, it would have been easy for him to let that affect his mentality — and it very well could have been lingering in the back of his mind when he gave up 16 runs in his first two starts. But he’s been (mostly) a picture of consistency since then really, and it couldn’t be coming at a better time with free agency looming and Eovaldi and Price both missing time with injuries. Given the injury history for both of those guys and Sale not always looking like himself this year, I’m starting to come around on the idea of re-signing Porcello.
The prospect of having four 30-year-old pitchers locked up long-term is a bit daunting, but the more Porcello contributes this year, the more the front office has to consider giving him a two or three-year deal come the offseason. It’s unlikely he wins another Cy Young, because even the first one was a bit surprising — just ask Kate Upton — but he’s been arguably Boston’s most consistent pitcher this season, which is another welcome surprise. The Red Sox are 8-2 in Porcello’s last 10 starts and he has given them at least six innings in seven of those appearances. He’s not striking out 10 guys every night, but he’s doing what he has always done best — eating innings and pitching good enough to give his team a chance to win each time he goes out. Even in Saturday’s loss, Porcello gave his team a chance against a hot Yankees team that’s averaging 5.34 runs a night. He just ran into a hotter Gary Sanchez in the fifth inning.
“He’s been very consistent for the last six, seven starts, and that’s what he’s here for,” Alex Cora said recently, per the Boston Herald. That’s all you can ask for from the fourth best pitcher in the rotation. And one could argue he’s giving you much more than that. Since April 24th, Porcello has posted the 14th-best batting average against in the American League (.221), the 8th-best BABIP (.245), and the 9th-lowest WHIP (1.06), per Fangraphs. Find me another No. 4 starter who has been better over the last few months. It would be tough.
Porcello’s slider and curveball seem to be a big reason for his success recently. Per Brooks Baseball, the BAA on his slider is at .209, which is down from .219 last season and .229 the year before that and comparable to where it was the year he won the Cy Young (.192). Same thing with the curve with a BAA of .188, down from .293 in 2018 and in line with the .203 BAA he saw with the curve in 2016. It would be nice to see him have the same success with the changeup that he had in 2016 but I will take what I can get.
Over the last few months, Porcello is pitching like it’s a contract year. He has been open about wanting to stay in Boston and it feels like he would take a pay cut to do that. Either way, the Red Sox will have to spend money on another rotational piece in the offseason and Porcello is showing that he wants it to be him. If he keeps pitching like this, he is going to make it harder for Dave Dombrowski to say no. Obviously, there are a lot of big decisions coming for Boston and I still think it all starts and ends with Mookie Betts. Now that he’s seen what Bryce Harper and Manny Machado got, I think you have to sit down with him again this offseason and put your best offer on the table. If he says no, it might be time to think of other ways to spend the $25-30 million you were (hopefully) going to give Betts annually. Bringing back Porcello wouldn’t be the worst place to start.