Red Sox

Rick Porcello's Red Sox career is likely winding down, so let's salute what he has meant to the team

Rick Porcello's Red Sox career is likely winding down, so let's salute what he has meant to the team

BOSTON -- Let's just get this out of the way -- under no circumstances should the Red Sox make Rick Porcello a qualifying offer.

He'd be crazy not to sign the one-year, $18 million tender on the spot, in his own blood if he has to, and the team desperately needs to upgrade his spot in the rotation, since Chris Sale ($145 million), David Price ($96 million), Nathan Eovaldi ($51 million), and Eduardo Rodriguez (cheap) aren't going anywhere.

That leaves Porcello as the odd man out, and his performance certainly hasn't merited the extension a number of us believed he deserved before the season (raises hand). He entered his start vs. Friday night vs. the Orioles ranked 68th out of 69 qualified starters in ERA (5.67), and there's nothing misleading about that stat. He has pitched poorly.

We're not here to crush him, however. He has done plenty of that to himself, not to mention dugout flat screens. Instead, with his Red Sox career presumably winding to a close, let us salute his rocky, rollercoaster, and ultimately rewarding tenure.

The Red Sox acquired him in December of 2014 for Yoenis Cespedes and then signed him to a four-year, $82.5 million extension on the eve of the season. Porcello rewarded the faith of GM Ben Cherington by going 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA, which contributed to Cherington being relieved of his job that August.

In came Dave Dombrowski, who had shown no interest in extending Porcello with the Tigers. Whatever skepticism Dombrowski may have harbored, the right-hander dispelled it -- and made Cherington's decision look far more prescient -- by delivering one of the most unlikely Cy Young seasons in recent memory.

Porcello went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, leading the AL in strikeout-to-walk ratio and claiming the trophy that no one saw coming.

He followed in 2017 with another cannonball into the toilet, leading the AL in losses (17) and tying a Red Sox record by allowing 38 home runs.

But still he persevered and in 2018 he not only won 17 games as a stable No. 3 starter, he also manned up in the postseason with a pair of pivotal relief outings. When the Red Sox hoisted the World Series trophy, they could point to Porcello as one of the leaders of not just the staff, but the entire clubhouse. Not bad for a guy who looked like a bust in year one, but now would love nothing more than to stay in Boston.

That brings us to Friday night. Porcello gutted out six innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. He wasn't overpowering (one swing and miss), but he kept the ball in the park for the first time in eight starts and survived some hard contact (six balls hit at least 90 mph) to keep the O's in check.

There's no sense in pretending Baltimore is a threat on any side of the ball, but the Orioles had hit Porcello hard in two prior starts, totaling nine runs in nine innings. In the course of beating them on Friday, he crossed the 2,000-inning threshold for his career, a meaningful milestone for a pitcher who considers reliability his calling card.

"Definitely very proud of that," Porcello said. "It's been a tough year, but this is kind of a night where I can look back and say 

I got 6,000 outs in the big leagues and not many people can say they did that. I'm very proud of that and a lot of people have helped me and supported me along the way to be able to get through it, to 2,000 innings. I'm just fortunate enough to be able to stay healthy and do it. It's a nice night and a little side note and a nice little accomplishment."

Manager Alex Cora saluted Porcello and noted the role he'll need to play if the Red Sox are to drag themselves back into contention.

"Two thousand innings at this level, you don't do that just being lucky," Cora said. "You've got to work, and you've got to grind. . . . He was good for us last year. He won a Cy Young before. So, he can put a streak of quality starts just like Chris and the rest of the guys and help us pull this off."

 

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Hey, 2019 wasn't a total washout -- at least we got to watch Rafael Devers

Hey, 2019 wasn't a total washout -- at least we got to watch Rafael Devers

The 2019 season may feel disposable, but there's one reason we'll look back on it fondly -- Rafael Devers.

Just as Nomar Garciaparra gave 1997 meaning and Mookie Betts ultimately made 2015 worth suffering through, Devers has stamped 2019 as a campaign to remember, even if everything else about the team's performance we can't forget soon enough.

In Wednesday night's loss to the Giants, Devers made history by blasting his 30th homer. Still only 22 years old, he joined Xander Bogaerts as the only teammates with 30 homers and 50 doubles in a season.

He did it with a screaming line drive into the first row of seats in the right field corner to break up Jeff Samardzija's no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth. The swing was quintessential Devers, a vicious rip on a fat cutter that left the park at over 111 mph.

It's the kind of swing we've seen him pulverize mistakes with all year, and it suggests even better days lay ahead.

"He's put it all together," said manager Alex Cora. "The most important thing is that he's not pleased with what's going on with us. That's the most important thing. He can go 0 for 6 and we win and you always see him smiling on that line until the game is over. Or we win and he doesn't make a play, he puts his teammates in a bad spot, he's upset about it. I think it was the game he went 6 for 6 in Cleveland, he was upset because he didn't make a play. And that's who he is and we're very proud of him. That's the mentality that we have to have as an organization. Be a winner. It's funny because the other day he's like, 'Oh this is the first time I'm not going to be in the playoffs' I'm like, 'Dude, you only have two and a half years in the big leagues so you'll be OK.' But he made some adjustments in the offseason and it's paying off."

For his part, Devers was happy to reach home run No. 30, which came 15 days after No. 29.

"I wasn't that anxious about 30 home runs," he said. "I was just trying to make contact on the ball as usual. It wasn't something that was really on my mind. I just made the adjustments I needed to make. I know it's been a while since I've hit one. Watching film, seeing the adjustments that I needed to make in order to do that, but really making contact.

"I had to just control the strike zone more, figure out my pitch selection, what to swing at because that's really what I struggled with," he added. "I was still confident at the plate. It was really what I was swinging at that caused all the issues."

Devers noted his close relationship with Bogaerts and what it meant to join him in the 30-50 club.

"I'm extremely happy, especially for him," he said. "He's one of my closest friends. To be able to do that with him feels really special for me. Obviously we just have to continue to play the game together and try to break as many records as possible. It's pretty special."

Special is a good way to describe Devers' 2019. Amidst a sea of injury and underachievement, he managed to shine with an infectious enthusiasm and joy that gave this forgettable season a reason to be.

Next up in 2020: marrying individual achievement with a return to the playoffs.

"Obviously this isn't the season that we've envisioned for our team," Devers said. "That's something that sticks with me more as opposed to personal accolades. I'm just glad some of my other teammates are achieving milestones for themselves as well."

Alex Cora explains why Red Sox shut down David Price>>>

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Highlights of the Red Sox' 11-3 loss to the Giants

Highlights of the Red Sox' 11-3 loss to the Giants

FINAL SCORE:  Giants 11, Red Sox 3

IN BRIEF: Jeff Samardzija no-hit the Red Sox into the sixth inning and Boston was held to six hits, one of them Rafael Devers' 30th home run, in an 11-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It was the 2,000th managerial win for the Giants' Bruce Bochy. BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 79-72

HIGHLIGHTS

A YAZ-TO-YAZ FIRST PITCH:

1st inning:
Yastrzemski walks, moves to third on Belt's double to center, Pillar grounds out to short, scoring Yastrzemski (1-0, SF).

Vogt hits a two-run homer off Chacin off the right-field foul pole on a 0-and-2 pitch (3-0, SF).

3rd inning:
Pillar hits an infield single to third and steals second, Vogt walks, Crawford doubles to right, scoring Pillar (4-0, SF).

6th inning:
Devers homers off Samardzija to right on a 3-2 pitch (4-1, SF).

7th inning:
Holt singles to center (Abad replaces Samardzija on the mound), Bradley Jr. reaches on an infield hit to shortstop, moves to second on M.Hernández's single to center, León singles to left, scoring Bradley Jr. (4-2, SF).

8th inning:
Pillar hits an infield single to shortstop, moves to third on Dickerson's single to right, Rickard pinch-runs for Dickerson, Vogt hits a sacrifice fly to center fielder Bradley Jr., scoring Pillar (5-2, SF).

Rickard steals second (Brewer replaces Shawaryn on the mound), Adames hits an infield single to second, scoring Rickard (6-2, SF).

9th inning:
(Velázquez replaces Brewer on the mound) A. Garcia doubles to left, Yastrzemski singles to center, scoring A. Garcia (7-2, SF).

Vogt grounds into fielder's choice at second, Yastrzemski scores (8-2, SF).

(Weber replaces Velázquez on the mound) Crawford reaches on fielder's choice plus an error by shortstop Bogaerts, Belt scores (9-2, SF). 

Adames singles to left, loading the bases, Dubon singles to right, scoring Vogt and Crawford (11-2, SF).

Bradley Jr. homers to left off E. Franco on a 1-2 pitch (11-3, SF).

UP NEXT:
Vs. Giants, Thursday, 1:05 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Friday, 7:10 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Saturday, 6:10 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Sunday, 1:10 p.m., NESN

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