Since Rick Porcello’s first start of the season, he’s been the “ace” of the Red Sox this year. Many expected him to perform well. Not great, but good enough. Better than 2015. He has pleasantly surprised all of us over the last six months or so. Many joked about him winning the Cy Young award earlier in the season. Now, in mid-September, that’s become a reality.
Porcello’s success began way back in April. We all had our doubts about him: “It was just a fluke month; he can’t possibly keep this up.” “It was just one good month.” “Look at last season. No way he turns it around that quickly. He’ll never live up to his contract.” Slick Rick has silenced the doubters ever since then. He’s worked his tail off. He pitches with grit and guts. He’s confident on the mound. He’s not afraid of anybody. He gets frustrated when he makes mistakes, learns from those mistakes and bounces back almost immediately. I can’t remember the last time he had two bad starts in a row. Porcello has pitched some pretty big games in high leverage situations, in must-win games. His latest victory may have been his biggest of the season.
The Red Sox traveled to Baltimore to face the Orioles in another playoff-push series against another contending AL East team on the 19th. The starters: Rick Porcello vs. Dylan Bundy. Both arguably their teams’ aces. Both starters faced deep, talented lineups. In the end, Porcello prevailed. Bundy gave up homers to Mookie Betts, the Orioles’ daddy, and David Ortiz, who’s killing every opponent in his path. Porcello, on the other hand, only made one big mistake the entire night - a solo home run to Adam Jones in the fourth inning that had no effect on the game. Porcello also completely owned Manny Machado in this game. They both chirped at each other after Rick unintentionally plunked him, ruining his perfect game in the fourth inning. I, as many Red Sox fans do, cannot stand Machado, so it was incredible to watch Porcello shut him up.
Porcello gave up only four hits, two earned runs with no walks and seven strikeouts. Not to mention, Pretty Ricky pitched an 89-pitch complete game. He’s the first major league pitcher to pitch a complete game in under 90 pitches this season. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. This game brought Porcello’s ERA down to 3.08. If that ERA gets below 3, the Cy Young is his to lose. This particular performance added a few more feats to Porcello’s resume. Porcello has eleven straight starts of going 7+ innings while giving up three or less runs, tying Cy Young and Pedro Martinez for the most consecutive in Red Sox history. His W/L record stands at 21-4, seven more wins than his previous career-high, and still leading the major leagues in wins this year. Porcello is at another career-high 210.1 innings pitched, third-most in the majors this year. Porcello leads the MLB in WHIP at 0.978. He has started more games this year (31) than walks he’s allowed all season (29). Lastly, his strikeout/walk ratio is at 6.00 on the dot, again, leading the league. Six.
As I mentioned previously, the AL Cy Young is Porcello’s to lose. Yes, he’s in a tight race with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Chicago’s Chris Sale, but if the award is given out today, I give it to Porcello. You can also bring up Baltimore’s star closer Zach Britton into the mix. It depends on one’s opinion, but I personally believe that Britton will not win it because he is a reliever. There’s still some baseball left to be played, but right now, I name Rick Porcello the 2016 AL Cy Young winner.