IS RICK PORCELLO REALLY BACK?

Red Sox pitcher, Rick Porcello, was placed on the Disabled List with a right triceps strain on August 2. At the time, Porcello, who had been signed as a Free Agent and was being paid $12.5 million this year and $82.5 million over the next four years, had a record of 5-11 with an Earned Run Average of 5.81.

On August 15, he was sent to the Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox A affiliate in the New York/Penn League on a rehab assignment. While there, he started one game, pitching 3 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and no runs. On August 21, he was then sent to the Sox AAA affiliate Pawtucket where he started one game, pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on three hits.

He was activated on August 26, by the Red Sox and pitched seven innings against the White Sox in Chicago, holding them scoreless on five hits, while striking out five, as the Sox won, 3-0. On September 1, against the Yankees at Fenway Park, he went eight innings, giving up just one earned run, a homer by Brett Gardner in the eighth inning.

The Yankees had scored two unearned runs in the fifth when Travis Shaw misplayed a ground ball, that would have been the third out, and the Yankees got a two run scoring double by ex-Red Sox short stop, now Yankee second baseman, Stephen Drew. If Shaw had fielded that ball, Porcello would have left with the score tied 1-1 after eight. As it was it was 3-1 which was the final score and he got the loss.

What happened in Porcello’s 9 1/3 innings of pitching in the minors that brought him back to the Red Sox a different pitcher? Before the rehab, he had averaged 5 2/3 innings and 4.6 strikeouts per start. Since coming back he has averaged 7 ½ innings per start and nine strikeouts and has given up just one run in 15 innings pitched.

More importantly, does this small sampling indicate that the Rick Porcello the Red Sox signed and expected to be an effective starter has solved his problems and will perform as they expected him to for the remainder of his contract?

In the four weeks he was off the Red Sox roster, Porcello worked on what they call his ‘command and control’. Command and control is just the way people on the ‘IN’ refer to being able to throw the ball where you want to, when you want to. Kind of like calling the kid behind the fast food counter who takes your money and does what the register tells him to do a ‘Customer Service Representative’.

Whatever he did during that period, I hope the long term effect is as good as the short term has been. Rick Porcello has been a part of the problem so far this year. If he can maintain the form we saw in his last two outings, he’ll be a part of Dave Dombrowski’s solution for the 2016 Red Sox.

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