Tag Archives: Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello turnaround could help Bosox pull away

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Rick Porcello helping the Bosox take charge in AL East

As late as June 2, the Boston Red Sox were just four games over the .500 mark. At that point, the team sat in third place in the AL East race, three games behind the arch-rival New York Yankees.

Flash forward a little more than seven weeks, and the Bosox have taken charge. They went 26-19 to flip the standings position, now leading the Yanks by 3.5 after the games of Saturday, July 22.
For the second straight season, Boston has an AL Cy Young Award front-runner. This time around, that top starting pitcher is lefty Chris Sale.
But last season’s top starter has struggled for much of the 2017 season. Rick Porcello won the 2016 AL Cy Young Award following the best season by far of his then eight-year big league career.
Porcello went 22-4 a year ago with a 3.15 ERA and 1.009 WHIP. He allowed just 193 hits over 223 innings with a 189/32 K:BB ratio.
Flash forward to this season, and Porcello’s numbers are nowhere near that level. The 28-year old righty has gone 4-12 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.436 WHIP. He has allowed 156 hits over 125.1 innings with a 115/24 K:BB mark.
Porcello has regressed to the type of pitcher he had been in his first seven seasons. That would be a nice, reliable, mid-rotation innings eater as opposed to a top of the rotation ace-caliber starter.
However, his recent starts have begun to signal what could be a turnaround towards numbers closer in line to last season.

Over his last five outings, Porcello has a 3.31 ERA. He has allowed just 32 hits over 32.2 innings with a 30/6 K:BB ratio. He also has just a .252 Batting Average Against in that period. Over a full season, that would be his second best mark, behind only last year’s Cy-winning campaign.
Boston skipper John Farrell was asked recently whether he thought that Porcello was regaining last year’s form.
“Oh yeah,” said Farrell, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “And you see it in his body language, the rhythm and pace he establishes in the game. All the while knowing he’s been pitching while, let’s face it, 50 percent of the time there have been zeroes on the board when he’s been on the mound. I think he’s done a very good job of pitching independent of that and just executing to the best of his ability.”
David Price returned from the Disabled List on May 29 and was increasingly looking like his own old, dominant self. That is, until he was roped around by the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. That should ultimately prove a blip on the veteran left-hander’s pitching ledger.
Sale is dominating. Price is back in top form. Lefty Drew Pomeranz has been strong. Last week, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez returned to the rotation and provided an encouraging outing.
If these last handful of starts are more indicative of what Boston can expect from Porcello from here on out, the Red Sox just might begin to run away with the division. It would also give the team a trio of strong, seasoned starters come the postseason.

MLB Draft first rounders not guaranteed success

Last night’s first round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft was full of excitement and anticipation for the teams and families involved. 
However, history shows that most of those selected will prove to be forgettable choices.
As an example, a look back at the draft from exactly a decade ago reveals such varied results. There were a couple of superstars in that 2007 MLB Draft, and a few other star-caliber players. There were also some who carved out a small niche for themselves in the big leagues.
But there were also a bunch of never-weres mixed into the selection process. Each one of those misses was considered to be a strong prospect at the time they were drafted.
The Tampa Bay Rays held the first overall pick in 2007, and there really wasn’t much of a choice. Left-handed pitcher David Price from Vanderbilt had been considered a near lock for that top selection for months.
With the second pick, the Kansas City Royals chose a left-side infielder from Chatsworth High School in California. The surprise was that the Royals selection was Mike Moustakas rather than Chris Dominguez. ‘Moose’ had put on a big time power display that spring to pass his more heavily scouted teammate.

TOP TWO PICKS IN 2007 WERE HITS

Price and Moustakas represent the possibilities at the top of the draft. Price was perceived as a can’t miss prospect. Over the next decade, he would live up to the hype.
Now with the Boston Red Sox, Price has a 122-66 record over 175 appearances, 170 of those as a starter. He was the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, and was runner-up for the honor on two other occasions. He is a five-time American League all-star.
Moustakas was the Royals starter at third base for the better part of five seasons, culminating with an AL all-star selection in 2015 as the Royals won the World Series.
His career on an individual basis doesn’t equal Price’s. But Moustakas’s contributions to a championship team certainly mean that Kansas City will never regret his selection.

FIRST ROUND 2007 BUSTS

If Price and Moustakas reveal the upside possibilities of players picked at the top of a draft, the next two players show the opposite. Both players are largely forgotten, never having made a mark in the big leagues.
Selected at third overall by the Chicago Cubs was a California high school third baseman named Josh Vitters. Over the next five years, Vitters seemed to be progressing on schedule as he rose through the Cubs system.
In August of 2012, Vitters received his first big league promotion. He would spend most of the final six weeks of the season as the Cubs starting third baseman. Vitters hit for just a .121/.193/.202 slash line. He had just two home runs and five RBI, and never again appeared in a big league uniform.
The fourth overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates was a pitcher named Daniel Moskos. The lefty out of Clemson University in South Carolina would similarly see action in just one big league season.
Moskos appeared in 31 games over two separate stints with the Pirates in the 2011 season. He had a 1-1 record with a favorable 2.96 ERA mark. But Moskos also allowed 29 hits over 24.1 innings with just an 11/9 K:BB ratio.
Released by the Bucs in July of 2012, Moskos has bounced through four other MLB organizations since. While a free agent in June of 2015, Moskos was suspended for 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

OTHER 2007 DRAFT BIG HITS

A big winner in that 2007 first round were the San Francisco Giants. With the 10th overall selection, the Giants chose a North Carolina high school lefty pitcher named Madison Bumgarner. The rest is history.
Bumgarner would help the Giants to World Series crowns in 2010, 2012, and 2014. He is a four-time NL all-star, and has two Silver Sluggers in his trophy case. In 2014 he was selected as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year as well as the AP Male Athlete of the Year.
MLB
Aug 11, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Bumgarner was the Giants first round pick at 10th overall in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
There were other “hits” in that 2007 MLB Amateur Draft first round. Four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove catcher Matt Wieters was selected fifth by the Baltimore Orioles. And four-time Gold Glover Jason Heyward was selected 14th overall by the Atlanta Braves.
And all the way down at 27th overall, the Detroit Tigers chose Rick Porcello. A New Jersey right-handed pitcher, Porcello would finish third in the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year voting. It was the first of his six consecutive seasons as an innings-eater in a contending Tigers rotation.
In December 2014, Detroit shipped Porcello off to the Boston Red Sox for a package that included a star rental outfielder in Yoenis Cespedes.
Porcello would finally put it all together in Boston a year ago. He won 22 games in 2016, and was honored with the AL Cy Young Award.

PLAYERS FROM LOWER ROUNDS WILL RISE

There will be more than a thousand players selected over the course of three days in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. A number of the players chosen after the first round are sure to make an impact far greater than most of the first rounders.
MLB
Jun 9, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; As “Mike” Stanton, the Marlins outfielder was a big hit as the club’s second round pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.  Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Florida (now Miami) Marlins chase Dominguez with their first round pick at 12th overall. He would appear in parts of five big league seasons, but just one in south Florida.
However, the Fish are certainly happy with their second round selection that season. At 76th overall, the Marlins selected outfielder “Mike” Giancarlo Stanton that year.
Other pitchers selected after the first round in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft include Jordan Zimmermann (67), Corey Kluber (134), Jake Arrieta (159), Chris Sale (642), and Craig Kimbrel who was the 1,006th player chosen.
The 2007 Draft also included Freddie Freeman (78), Jonathan Lucroy (101). Anthony Rizzo (204), and Brandon Belt (348) as position players taken after the first round.

MOST FIRST ROUNDERS WON’T MAKE IT

But aside from that handful of strong picks, the vast majority of the other two dozen players chosen in that 2007 first round were closer to Vitters and Moskos.
MLB
Feb 14, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; the Cincinnati Reds first rounder at 15th overall, Mesoraco was a 2014 NL all-star, but is now a backup catcher. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY Sports
Others chose in the top ten that year included players who have tasted the big leagues, such as Ross DetwilerMatt LaPortaCasey Weathers, and Jarrod Parker.
Scattered throughout the rest of the first round were players who never even reached the big leagues, led by Beau Mills, a pitcher selected at 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians.
Devin Mesoraco probably represents a mid-level outcome for a first round draftee. The catcher was selected at 15th overall by the Cincinnati Reds.
Now in his seventh season, he was a 2014 NL all-star. But that was Mesoraco’s only real big season, and he is now relegated to backup duties.

THEY WON’T ALL MAKE IT, BUT THEY’RE ALL RICH

History shows that, despite all the excitement surrounding the young men selected last night, most of them will never make even one appearance in Major League Baseball.
Every first rounder will be a millionaire. The slot value for the 30th overall pick, which is the final pick of that first round, has been assigned by MLB at more than two million dollars.
Hopefully the players and their families make some wise financial decisions in the coming weeks and months, because most are never going to see another huge payday from the game of baseball.
However, each now has a chance, which is more than most youngsters who have ever played the game have ever received. They will get first-class coaching and medical treatment, and as a first round pick, they will get at least a few years to prove their worth on the diamond.

Boston Red Sox Just Pitching Away From Domination

The Boston Red Sox have some of the best young position player talent in the game and just need to upgrade their pitching in order to become truly dominant.

The Boston Red Sox finished at the top of the American League East Division standings in 2016. The club finished four games ahead of both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles.
In the postseason, the Red Sox were swept out of the ALDS in three straight games by the Cleveland Indians. Two of the three games were decided by a single run.
The BoSox will be losing their longtime leader, David Ortiz, who rides off into the sunset of retirement. He will take 38 homers, 127 RBI, and a .315/.401/.620 slash line at age 40 with him.
While the loss of Big Papi will be a big one in many ways, the Red Sox have young talent that can make up for that loss. Veterans Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia will return to man the right side of the infield. They will provide the experience while a group of the most exciting and dynamic youngsters in the game continues to develop.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, third baseman Yoan Moncada, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and right fielder Mookie Betts are all among the best in the game at their positions. All are in their low-mid 20s.


THE PROBLEM WITH BOSOX PITCHING

At first blush, Red Sox pitching would not appear to be a major area of concern. Boston finished third in quality starts and batting average against, and fourth in ERA and strikeouts in the American League in 2016.
However, a closer look reveals that there may be things to worry about on the mound at Fenway Park going into the 2017 season.
Big ticket free agent David Price is now 31 years old. He is owed $187 million over the next six seasons. Price can opt out following the 2018 season, but it is hard to see him walking away from $30 million per year as he enters his mid-upper 30s.
This year, Price went up from a 2.45 ERA to a career high 3.99 mark. He led baseball with 230 innings pitched, but also yielded 227 hits. His 8.9 K/9 was his lowest mark since 2013.
Alone these aren’t panic numbers, but if they are precursors to what are often sustained slips by similarly aging pitchers of recent vintage through their low-mid 30s, then the contract could become a big issue.
Rick Porcello turns 29 years old next month and is coming off a Cy Young caliber season. That’s the very good news. Concerning for me is that he has never had a season this good previously. Is it a one-off outlier? Porcello is still owed $63 million over the next three years.
Steven Wright, now 32 years old, came out of nowhere to earn an AL All-Star berth and win 13 games over 24 starts. Would you be willing to count on him doing it again?
Clay Buchholz is also now 32 years old and is a career underachiever. He very suddenly got hot in September and salvaged his season by going 3-0 and pitching very effectively, earning himself a pick up of next year’s option.
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez was really bad for a large swath of the season from June through August. He fashioned a 5.56 ERA while going 1-6 over 13 starts during that period.
Drew Pomeranz came over in a July trade from the San Diego Padres and went 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.369 WHIP. He now becomes arbitration eligible.

WHAT DOES BOSTON HAVE FOR 2017?

For me, this pitching rotation should be an area of concern this offseason for the Red Sox. In fact, with the dynamism of their starting lineup, the rotation is keeping them from becoming in the AL what the Chicago Cubs are becoming in the National League.
The bullpen should be at least competitive, even if the unit loses Koji UeharaBrad Ziegler, and Junichi Tazawa, all free agents.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Kimbrel returns as a dominant closer. Robbie Ross is a strong lefty option. Heath HembreeMatt Barnes, and Joe Kelly will be back.
An interesting arm will be 24-year-old lefty Henry Owens, seen as a starter. Can he finally seize a regular role in Spring Training?
Boston had a $198 million payroll in the 2016 season. Right now that figure is at $147 million, but the BoSox have 10 players who are arbitration eligible including Bradley and Bogaerts.
There will probably be room to add a free agent arm, if management and ownership are willing to go in that direction.
Boston has at least two really good-looking young prospect arms in their minor league system in left-hander Jason Groome and right-hander Michael Kopech. However, at 18 and 20 years of age respectively, neither will be of help in 2017 and possibly not in 2018 either.

Are the Red Sox willing to count on Price to return to being a dominating ace, Porcello to again be a Cy-level starter, and the rest of their patched together bunch to give them enough effective starts to repeat in the AL East?
Even if they do, how does Boston go from being a division favorite to a pennant favorite? After all, with three World Series crowns over the last 13 years, that is now the goal throughout New England.

WHAT BOSTON NEEDS TO DO

For me, the Red Sox need to improve their starting pitching. The need at least one, and probably two better, more reliable arms to open the 2017 season.
While the free agent market isn’t deep, Boston could find help here in arms such as Jeremy HellicksonRich Hill, and Jason Hammel.
Boston also has a strong and deep minor league system. They could use an arm such as Kopech in a deal, or put something else together, and pluck an arm from a rebuilding team.
The Red Sox aren’t going to fade away, even with Ortiz gone. But his loss doesn’t make things any easier. In the end, I believe that replacing his bat won’t prove their most important issue. That comes in shoring up the mound corps.