What is going on with the Boston Red Sox’s $217 million free-agent starting pitcher? Actually, nothing is wrong. It just so happens that right now, he doesn’t even look like the staff ace.
Enter Rick Porcello. More specifically, 2014, “vinatge” Rick Porcello.
Two years ago, David Price was the crown jewel of the trade deadline. He was brought in to help make the Detroit Tigers’ rotation a super-group, with Price’s arrival bumping Porcello to the end of the line. Yet, Porcello was not only 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA, three shutouts, and 204 2/3 innings pitched — all career-highs — he out-performed Price in the southpaw’s 11 starts in the Motor City.
Fast forward two years, and history seems to be repeating itself. And this time, the Red Sox are the beneficiaries.
Porcello’s bread-and-butter pitch, his sinker, is being commanded as well as it ever has. That is helping all the other parts of his arsenal fall into place, and the results look staggering. Porcello is 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA, permitting just 24 hits in 32 2/3 innings while striking out 36. Porcello also has a 6.00 K/BB ratio.
On the flip side, Price has scuffled out of the gates. He does lead the American League with 46 strikeouts, but has a 5.79 ERA in 29 2/3 innings pitched. Alarmingly, Price has had two porous outings at Fenway Park, giving up five runs over five innings against Baltimore and getting shelled for eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay.
Take the headline of this article with a grain of salt; Price is still considered one of the game’s elite pitchers, and the team’s No. 1 arm. But don’t forget that he is 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA in his postseason career, something he will not be able to shy away from in the pressure-cooker that is the Boston sports universe.
It wouldn’t be fair to presume that Porcello will finish with better numbers than Price. Just don’t be surprised if he does.