Let’s go down the list.
Wade Miley, gone.
Justin Masterson, gone.
Joe Kelly, bullpen.
And, most recently, Clay Buchholz, gone.
That leaves one man standing from the “five aces” nonsense from 2015 Red Sox spring training. Now that pitcher, Rick Porcello, is coming off a Cy Young Award-winning season and could possibly be the Red Sox Opening Day starter over Chris Sale and David Price.
“No one’s said anything to us,” Sale said. “If I had to pick -- my opinion means absolutely nothing -- I think outta respect you gotta go with Porcello.”
“He was the best pitcher in the league last year, how do you deny that? Whichever way it falls it doesn’t matter. We’re all here for the same goal, and that’s winning ball games.”
Sale raises a good point. Porcello earned that title to start the year, over every pitcher in the league. Sale didn’t win the Cy Young, neither did Price. If one of them outdoes Porcello during the season, they’ll start the first playoff game or get the nod next year.
NO LIVING IN THE PAST… Porcello follows Belichick’s lead, moving “on to 2017”
But Sale’s not so quick to assume Porcello can’t repeat what he did in 2016 (22-4, 3.15 ERA).
“Absolutely,” Sale said when asked if he previously thought Porcello had this level of potential. “I think if you watched him pitch throughout his career, he got to the big leagues really quick. He was really young and did really well.”
“He’s always had a really good arm and the sinker is always gonna play. He put it together really well and it was incredible.”
But Porcello’s not entering the season trying to do more than he already has. That mindset could cause more harm than good.
“I don’t think [my expectations change],” Porcello said. “My expectations have always remained consistent, regardless of what season I had prior to that. I’m thinking about the same sort of things, going out there and being a quality pitcher every fifth day and giving us a chance to win.
“Hopefully that leads to a championship for us.”
While his mindset remains the same, his physical approach should change still, right? Given he pitched a career-high 223 innings (plus a playoff start), eclipsing the 200 mark for only the second time in his career, there might be something different.
“No, actually, really. Took my normal two weeks off and then started things back in the gym,” Porcello said. “That’s kind of the most important part. After throwing 223 innings, I noticed that I was definitely more worn down than I would have been prior to that.
“So you’ve gotta do even more to build that back up to prepare for the next season. All that’s been the same, and if not, just doing some more so that I can handle that workload again hopefully.”
Now Porcello’s tasted success, earning the highest honor a pitcher can. Now he has not one, but two left-handed Cy Young-caliber arms working alongside him.
Does he think he should start Opening Day?
“That’s not a decision for me to make, you know that,” Porcello said with a big smile.