Rick Porcello

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Frederick Alfred Porcello III

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Biographical Information[edit]

Rick Porcello was selected by the Detroit Tigers with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft. Generally considered one of the best pitching prospects in the draft, perhaps even the best high school pitcher in years, Porcello's stock fell because of his affiliation with Scott Boras. The high-powered agent's demands priced out many potential suitors. Scouted by Bill Buck, Porcello was set to attend the University of North Carolina if negotiations failed but the Tigers and the high school phenom settled on a four-year contract worth $7 million including a $3.58 million signing bonus. He is the grandson of Sam Dente.

High School Career[edit]

The lanky right-hander dominated high school competition with an overpowering fastball, a curveball, slider, and a changeup. The quantity and quality of the pitches were thought to be advanced for a pitcher of Porcello's age. Following his junior season in 2006, the Seton Hall Prep product was an Aflac All-American. He continued his reign over New Jersey as a senior in 2007, guiding the team to a third consecutive Non-Public Class A title. Porcello's record was 10-0, his ERA was 0.18, and he fanned 112 in 71 innings. On May 12th, he threw a perfect game against Newark Academy. Porcello was named the 2006-2007 "Gatorade Player of the Year". USA Today named him to their All-USA team.

Minor League Career[edit]

Rick Porcello 2-5858.jpg

Porcello made his pro debut on April 3, 2008 for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He allowed only one hit in 5 innings, walking two and striking out three while pitching shutout ball in a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Yankees. He peaked at 94 mph on the radar gun in his debut. Porcello had a 8-6, 2.66 record for Lakeland. The youngster led the Florida State League in ERA and made the League All-Star team. Baseball America rated him as the best prospect in the entire league, right ahead of J.P. Arencibia. He somehow lost Pitcher of the Year honors to Dylan Owen.

Major League Career: Detroit 2009-2014[edit]

Porcello's debut in the Major Leagues came on April 9, 2009, as the Detroit Tigers played the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto. He was facing Jays pitcher Ricardo Romero, who was also making his Big League debut in that game. This game was the first time ever that two first-round draft picks faced each other as starting pitchers making their debuts in the Majors. [1] He allowed four earned runs in five plus innings, and he was charged with the 6-2 loss. He had a solid rookie season, going 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA over 31 starts and 170 2/3 innings.

After his auspicious debut season, Porcello took a step back, and settled into being a reliable but unspectacular number 4 or 5 starter for the Tigers. His ERA jumped by almost a full run to 4.92 in 2010 and then settled at that level, as it was 4.79 in 2011 and 4.59 in 2012. However, he was still dependable, making 27, 31 and 31 starts during those three seasons and winning in double figures every year, with a second 14-9 season in 2011 sandwiched between seasons of 10-12 the years before and after. While his control was good, he gave up a lot of hits, including an American League leading 226 in 2012. He also did not pitch deep into games, with his personal best over his first four season being 182 innings in 2011. After four full seasons as a major league starter, he had not thrown a single complete game. He started and lost a game against the New York Yankees in the 2011 ALDS, then had a no-decision in his only start in the 2011 ALCS against the Texas Rangers; he also pitched twice in relief in that series, his first two appearances in a role other than starter at the major league level. In 2012, he was relegated to the back of the bullpen as the Tigers made it all the way to the World Series. He pitched only a third of an inning in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics and not at all in the ALCS. In the World Series, he pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Game 1 against the San Francisco Giants in an 8-3 loss as the Tigers were swept in four games.

Porcello finally recorded the first complete game of his career on September 10, 2013, in his 147th career start. That day he defeated the Chicago White Sox, 9-1. His season overall was very similar to the previous three, with a relatively high era, but a winning return and the proven capacity to take his turn on the mound every fifth day. That made him a useful but unspectacular player, which was a disappointment from the days when he was seen as a future frontline starter for Detroit. He finished the year at 13-8, 4.32, and once again was confined to the bullpen in the postseason. In two appearances, one in the ALDS and one in the ALCS, he failed to record an out, allowing all three batters he faced in the two games to score. Worse, in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, he was charged with the loss when he came in in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied, 5-5. Jonny Gomes hit an infield single and took second when José Iglesias' throw was wild. He then threw a wild pitch and allowed a single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the game.

Porcello had the most successful stretch of his career early in 2014. By defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 4-1, on May 12th, he made it five consecutive starts with a win, improving his record to 6-1, 3.22 after 7 starts. He also won his next start, on May 17th, 6-1 over the Red Sox. On June 26th, he pitched a three-hit shutout to defeat the Texas Rangers, 6-0, and improve to 10-4 on the year. It was the first shutout of his career, and only his second complete game. He made it back-to-back shutouts when he whitewashed the Oakland A's, 3-0, on July 1st. In that game, he neither walked not struck out a single batter, becoming the first pitcher since Dizzy Trout in 1944 to throw such a shutout for the Tigers; Jack Morris, back in 1986, had been the last Bengals pitcher to throw consecutive shutouts. His 13th win on August 2nd came courtesy of a historic offensive performance by the Tigers, as his teammates scored in all 8 innings in which they batted to beat the Colorado Rockies, 11-5. He picked up his 15th win, setting a new career high, on August 26th, when he defeated the New York Yankees, 5-2. he finished the season with a record of 15-13, 3.43, having failed to add to his win total in September. His 204 2/3 innings were also a career best. However, he was only the team's fourth starter heading into the postseason, and did not get a chance to pitchas the Tigers were eliminated in three games by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS.

Boston 2015-[edit]

On December 11, 2014, Porcello was traded to the Boston Red Sox in return for OF Yoenis Cespedes and Ps Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier. It was a rare trade of established players based on needs and not on contract considerations: the Tigers felt they were strong on the mound with the acquisition of Alfredo Simon in a separate trade the same day, but needed an outfielder to replace Torii Hunter, who had left via free agency. For their part, the Red Sox had a surplus of outfielders, but needed to shore up their starting rotation after failing to lure free agent Jon Lester back to the fold. On April 6, 2015, the Red Sox indicated their confidence in Porcello's future performance by signing him to a four-year contract extension worth $82.5 million. However, his first season with the team was a big disappointment, as he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA in 28 starts.

He turned things around completely in 2016 however, as he was unbeatable at home in the early going, starting the year with 12-0 mark at Fenway Park after a 16-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 14th. He was the first Boston pitcher since Dave Ferriss, who had been an unbeaten 13-0 at home in 1946, to have such a dominating run from the start of a season. On August 29th, another home win, this one 9-4 over the Tampa Bay Rays, made him the first 18-game winner in the majors that season and tied him with Ferriss with a 13-0 record at Fenway. On September 9th, he became the first twenty-game winner in the majors, and the first for the Red Sox since Josh Beckett in 2007, when he defeated the Blue Jays, 13-3, in a key game between the two AL East leaders. While Porcello had benefited from the best run support in the majors to get all those wins, it was still quite an accomplishment for a pitcher that had done very poorly the year before, and in addition to the wins, he was one of the league leaders in innings pitched, a very valuable commodity in its own right. His home winning streak was snapped on September 14th when he allowed a solo homer to Mark Trumbo in 8 innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles, but it was enough to lose, 1-0. He went 22-4, 3.15 on the season and was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for September, when he was 4-1, 2.70 in 6 starts. He was then voted the winner of the 2016 American League Cy Young Award, outpointing former teammate Justin Verlander of the Tigers in a very tight vote. He made one start in the postseason, in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians on October 6th. However, he gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 inning, including homers by Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor and was charged with a 5-4 loss that set the tone for the series as the Indians swept Boston in three games.

Porcello was more a picture of his postseason self then of a Cy Young Award winner when the 2017 season started. On June 10th, he was one of the workhorses of the American League, leading the circuit with 13 starts and 358 batters faced, but he was also atop the league standing with 8 losses and 104 hits allowed in only 80 2/3 innings. After being nearly unbeatable at home in 2016, he seemed to be spooked by Fenway Park, as he was 2-5, 5.10 at home. From May 28-July 28, he went 1-9, 4.71, before he suddenly found his groove again in August, when he won his first three starts. That streak included pitching an immaculate inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 9th. He made that four winning starts in a row when he defeated the New York Yankees, 5-1, on August 20th, improving his record to 8-14.

sources: Aflac All-American Bio

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL Cy Young Award Winner (2016)
  • AL Shutouts Leader: 2014
  • AL Wins Leader (2016)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2014 & 2016)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2016)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2014, 2016 & 2017)

AL Cy Young Award
2015 2016 2017
Dallas Keuchel Rick Porcello Corey Kluber


Further Reading[edit]

  • Ian Browne: "Porcello wins AL Cy Young Award", mlb.com, November 16, 2016. [1]
  • Ian Browne: "Rick rolls: Porcello taking whirlwind in stride: AL Cy Young Award winner welcomes growing acclaim in typical low-key fashion", mlb.com, January 22, 2017. [2]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Why Rick Porcello’s 20th win deserves more acclaim", USA Today Sports, September 12, 2016. [3]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Red Sox's Rick Porcello wins tight race AL Cy Young Award", USA Today Sports, November 16, 2016. [4]

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