Boston Red Sox Rick Porcello Back In Cy Young Form? Let’s Examine It
We’ve all been a little tough on Rick Porcello this season. Better yet, our expectations have been a little tough on the 28-year-old righty. The high-hopes we have for this young sinkerballer are ambitious, to say the least. He won the Cy Young award last year, so this is to be expected. But what happens now that Porcello has failed to reproduce his 2016 numbers? We all attempt to shield “Pretty Ricky” with, 100% unwarranted, ponderous excuse-making.
We all know he doesn’t get much run-support, but that’s beside the point. I’ve heard speculations of phantom-injuries. I’ve seen cushioning such as: “he’s not getting on top of the ball”, followed by pedantic frame-by-frame analysis of his mechanics. As if a hangnail could render Porcello an entirely different player!
We’ll grant this kid absurd impunity before we admit that he’s not actually as good as he appeared to be in 2016.
Here’s the scoop: he’s not.
It’s safe to consider his bewildering 2017 underperformance to be Porcello regressing to the mean. No one is impervious to the law of numbers, not even a Cy Young winning pitcher.
A Breakthrough Fluke
Porcello’s superlative 2016 season was a statistical outlier. Every player is allotted 1, Porcello’s was just more impressive than others. Last year he had a 3.15 ERA and won a league-high 22 games for the Red Sox. He was ace-like. Conversely, his career ERA is 4.24. Prior to 2016, the most wins he had in a single season was 15. Rick Porcello unequivocally had a career-year in 2016. This kid pulled a Cy Young season out of thin-air. Boston, this is not something Porcello is gonna do again anytime soon.
This season, Rick Porcello has posted rather underwhelming numbers. He has an unimpressive 4.63 ERA and only has 6 victories. What’s the deal, he’s a Cy Young winner, right? This is barely a below-average year for Porcello. It’s the juxtaposition with his numbers from last year, that makes his 2017 performance seem like he’s absolutely vomiting on himself.
Porcello’s 4.63 ERA is only .39 runs higher than his career ERA of 4.24. His output in this same category last year was a full 1.09 runs lower than his average, making 2016 the less accurate example of his ability. This illustrates exactly why our standards for Rick Porcello need to be adjusted.
Back to Reality
Perhaps the most alarming disparity between Porcello’s 2017 season when compared to prior years, is a number of home runs he has allowed.
In 24 games, Rick Porcello has given up 28 homers. Last season he gave up a total of 23, and in 2015 he gave up 25. This year, it seems like he can’t go a game without giving up the token long-ball!
This could be a symptom of Porcello feeling the pressure to over perform, or it could be that teams now have a more extensive scouting report on him. If he was to make an honest commentary on his failures, Porcello would probably just shrug his shoulders. And that’s just fine, sometimes there’s no more honest an answer.
All that should be expected from and all that we need to see from Rick Porcello is the 4.24 ERA pitcher that he really is. Sure, we can explore excuses manifold for his bad 2017 season (whatever helps you sleep at night), but that only creates frustration. We have aces on this team. We have Cy Young winners on this team. If Porcello could settle into a middle of the rotation anchor, he’d be fulfilling his role with the Red Sox. He needs to do nothing more and nothing less than just that.