Relative to expectations, the 2019 season has been a major disappointment for the Red Sox. Many teams would be satisfied with Boston’s 64-59 record, but after winning 108 regular-season games and a World Series in 2018, what the club has done in the first four-plus months of this year looks rather underwhelming. The unspectacular performance of right-hander Rick Porcello is among the many reasons the Red Sox have fallen short of expectations this season.
Porcello wasn’t great last year during the Red Sox’s latest run to a championship, but he gave the team 33 starts and 191 1/3 innings of 4.28 ERA/4.01 FIP pitching. That was a valuable complementary effort to the better output Chris Sale and David Price put forth. This season, though, Porcello has logged a far worse 5.67 ERA/4.92 FIP across 133 1/3 frames. He ranks dead last among 69 qualified starters in ERA and sixth from the bottom in FIP. It’s an unexpected fall from grace for someone who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2016, when Porcello posted a 3.15 ERA/3.40 FIP in 223 innings.
The fact that the 30-year-old Porcello’s just a couple months from his first-ever trip to free agency makes his subpar season all the more inopportune. Luckily for Porcello, he has already received one significant payday in his career. Back in April 2015, just months after they acquired him in a trade with the Tigers that also included outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the Red Sox signed Porcello to a four-year, $82.5MM extension. Porcello was a decent mid- to back-of-the-rotation innings eater at that point, which – Cy Young season aside – has largely been the case in Boston.
This year has been the worst as a member of the Red Sox for Porcello, who hasn’t just seen his run prevention numbers go backward. Porcello has also struck out just 7.22 batters per nine, which is down from a personal-best 8.94 a year ago and sits 14th from the bottom among qualified starters. Meanwhile, although Porcello’s 2.43 walks per nine certainly isn’t bad, it’s the highest of his career. His K/BB ratio (2.97) is superior to just 24 other starters’. Porcello’s groundball rate (38.9) stands as a career worst, too, and pales in comparison to the 50 percent-plus marks he consistently recorded as a Tiger.
Beyond those numbers, Statcast doesn’t think much of what Porcello has done this season. It ranks him toward the bottom of the majors in expected slugging percentage against (.475; 15th percentile), fastball velocity (91.1 mph; 16th percentile), expected weighted on-base average (.332, compared to a .346 wOBA; 32nd percentile), expected batting average (.256; 36th percentile) and hard-hit percentage (46th percentile).
It’s clear there hasn’t been a lot to like this season about Porcello, who will nonetheless try to find a sizable deal in free agency a few months from now. He’ll definitely fall behind Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Dallas Keuchel (perhaps among others) in the open market pecking order, while there are several other starters in a similar class to Porcello who could negatively affect his earning power. A short-term contract (one or two years) seems like a strong possibility for Porcello, who’s likely to struggle to reach eight figures on his next pact. That obviously isn’t what Porcello had in mind when he earned the AL’s top pitcher honors just three years ago.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Sasha C. Handelman
He’d be lucky to get a 2/20 deal. I can’t see a team offering more than that
I don’t see 2/20, guy has been super stubborn about where he is throwing the ball. Gave up way too many gopher balls last year. Insists on throwing the ball up, and has left way too many up over the strike zone and it’s turned ugly for him. Don’t see him back in Boston
I think he’ll be willing to take less to stay in Boston but they might prefer to go with Brian Johnson/Hector Velazquez for league minimum. Not that it’s a major factor, but keep in mind he ‘allowed’ 6ER in 1/3 inning in London so his ERA would be 5.27 not 5.67 without that game. Still terrible, but I imagine not last in the league.
I can see a 1 year make or break deal staying in Boston. His durability can’t be understated and part of his issues could be the ball. Unfortunately I think I read it won’t be changed until 2021. Hope I’m wrong. I also disagree with the article in that he was more valuable than Chris Sale the second half of last year.
Porcello has been worse than bad this year with the Red Sox. He has at times looked completely incapable of getting anyone out. Honestly I don’t think it would be a good investment for anyone to give him a contract and expect to rely on him performing. I imagine he must have something left in the tank at only 30 so maybe he can rediscover his old form – but I don’t think it should really warrant anything more than a “prove it” 1-year deal or maybe a 2-year with the second being an option/vesting-option as the best case scenario.
I’d feel better giving Porcello 10m aav next season, even if total of 20m spread over 2y than giving JBJ 10m in 2020, which is what he’ll be making if tendered a contract (9m 2019). difference is, Dombrowski seems to have always loved JBJ for some reason, traded away Porcello when he ran the Tigers for a song (cespedes for 2 months) while Porcello, if never a frontline SP, most part has thrown close to 200 solid innings until this year.
I’d gladly offer him half the current 20m he’s making to come back for 1-2y as solid as he was over Johnson and Velazquez as #5’s, then say bye-bye to JBJ and find a glove only (what he is) for 1/4 the price if they must.
JBJ is worth it for one year with that glove when the rest of the lineup is so strong. I do worry though as almost everyone else on the club is hitting with the juiced ball. I also worry that Devers in 2019 is a product of the ball like so many others. Teams will be overpaying on hitters and underpaying pitchers when the ball gets changed.
I think the tigers shod try and get him as a bridge to the younger guys. Get him in a more pitcher friendly park, he might do well.
I agree, I always liked Ricky! Unfortunately, I can see him going back home as a Met.
He would be lucky if he gets a multiyear deal
One year $5mil
Is my guess. Prob the Brewers.
Minor league deal at best
No, it’s not.
$5 – $m base plus incentives than can double that.
The major feather in his cap is durability and for that alone I can see him garnering some interest. Say what you will but the guys has averaged 30 starts/yr over an 11 year span
Exactly. He goes out there and competes every 5 days. . Will he get a big deal in free agency? Obviously not. Will there be numerous teams that want to sign him for short money? Obviously.
No injuries of significance. Durable.
Agreed and he has value, just ask the Angels who can not find a pitcher can pitch 190 innings.
I think one year 12.5 or 2 for 22 is good value for him. Still young, has a Cy Young, and could be a strong 3 if he bounces back or worse a 4.
Bounce back candidate for the Rangers!!??
Spoiler alert it’s not good
With the dearth of ML pitching, he gets a major league deal easy…
He’ll find a team desperate enough to pay him close to $8M for one year. He is a workhorse; just a bad one!
Is Rick Porcello having an awful year? Yeah, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. But, the ability to make 30+ starts a year is arguably more valuable than it ever has been, and he’s one of the best at taking the ball every 5th day.
It also doesn’t hurt that Porcello has won a CYA and has a solid amount of experience in the postseason.
Even on the heels of such a bad year, it wouldn’t surprise me if he still scores a multi-year deal–after all, everybody needs pitching.
It’s actually lesser in value to mlb teams. Teams are stacking depth, and would take less innings at a greater performance than innings eaters. I think that continues to show on the market. I think Porcello sits on the market for a while and comes out with a one year prove it type deal.
I agree that teams stack depth, and in many cases, choose to go with guys who they expect to provide better performances, albeit over lesser workloads. Part of that though, is influenced out of necessity–as there are no longer loads of hurlers who can be relied on to take the ball every 5th day–the reason why there are less today is for an entirely different conversation.
Anyway, I wasn’t saying Porcello has more value than said pitchers, rather, guys who can make 30+ starts a year hold more value now than they did in the past.
Like you said, I think that’s a different convo as to why guys don’t anymore. I think the point is that even though there may have been extreme value to take the bump 30+ times in the past, the game has somewhat evolved to make that trait not inherently valuable anymore, unless you’re say a plus SP. It has some value to rebuilding teams that want to save young arms or maybe a team that with a tremendous defense accompanied by a big park, but it’s just not there for most teams. Being a completely average pitcher, lines him up for a small AAV 1 year type deal maybe 2 (maybe more if a team feels an ability to unlock something), but most likely not. I get what you’re saying concerning the ability to take the ball everyday 5th day, but I’d argue that making 30 starts holds no more value, or less value, than it did in the past even if it’s now a rarity.
Why do I feel like this is going to be the big free agent signing for the Braves ???
Anthopoulos has already proven how astute he is by bringing in Martin, Greene and Melancon to restock (destroy) the bullpen.
I have to agree with you. Braves looked at him when he was with Detroit a few years back. The asking price was too steep at that time.
Still Butthurt that he won the Cy Young over JV, a travesty. Pretty Ricky has been a fine 3rd/4th starter who had one great year. Durable as the day is long, yes, but nowhere near as talented as his pending free agent counterparts on the horizon.
Meanwhile JV keeps crushing the league at 36. How is that other CyYoung thief Blake Snell doing? Crap you say?
The Cy JV gets this year shoukd be his 4th.
Karma, little Rickey…
You think his karma is being a world series champ who has earned over 100 million dollars?
Well JV probably won’t win the Cy this year either. In fact his teammate GC has pitched better and deserved it more then JV.
Thief Blake Snell? Karma little Ricky? You are a weasel.
A 30 year old former Cy Young winner will get a MLB job somewhere. Might only be a one year deal. Might get a 2-3 year deal at max. Someone will give him a contract. Just might not be for as much as he wants.
I fear that the saga of Rick Poorfellow has come to an end.
He will end up with an NL Team. AL pitchers that need to breath new life go to NL to pitch. Will probably be a 1 or 2 year deal. I suspect he will do ok. He has up and down years and can really pitch when he gets on a good roll. Not been good this year though.