Rick Porcello Gives Up 3 Runs in Rehab Start With PawSox

In what has been a wildly unsuccessful first season with the Red Sox, Rick Porcello completed what should be his final rehab outing with the Pawtucket Red Sox on Friday night before returning to the Red Sox rotation for the last five weeks of the season. Porcello will likely replace Matt Barnes in the rotation, unless the team finally decides that Joe Kelly should get an audition in the bullpen.

After a shaky first inning in which Porcello gave up two runs while hitting a batter and Rick Porcelloallowing three stolen bases, Porcello calmed down to allow just one run in the remaining 4.2 innings he went. Overall he went 5.2 while allowing 3 hits, 3 earned runs, striking out 6 including 4 of the last 5 batters he faced and walking none. Obviously the main focus for Porcello is keeping the ball down, especially his fastball which has been hammered this season when it has been left up in the strike zone. He is a sinker ball pitcher, but seems to rely on his fastball too much and looks like he over throws at times. It’s okay Rick if you can’t throw 99—the Red Sox already have Joe Kelly over throwing as it is.

The next month of the season for Porcello will be a big test as he looks to right the ship on what has been a rough start to his Red Sox career. After being acquired from the Tigers in a winter trade, Porcello signed a 4 year extension with the team paying him over $80 million before he even threw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform.

Obviously that contract is a lot to live up to, but Red Sox fans should remember that John Lackey’s first few years with the Red Sox weren’t great either and he went on to help them win a World Series in 2013. Time is on Porcello’s side to prove he is a better pitcher than he has looked this season. However, to expect him to live up to that contract may be farfetched.

Dave Dombrowski, recently named President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, is the man who drafted Porcello, but also the man who traded him, so we will soon find out how he really feels about Porcello. Obviously his results this season will not make it easy to move him, but maybe if he is counted on less, he will be a much better pitcher next season.

Rick Porcello Signs 4-yr, $82.5 Million Extension with Red Sox

RICK PORCELLO

The Red Sox announced last night that pitcher Rick Porcello has agreed to a four year extension worth in the neighborhood of $82,500,000. The righty also received a $500,000 signing bonus. He will be paid $20 million next year as well as in 2017, and $21 million in 2018 and 2019. His 2015 contract remains a mere $12.5 million.

Porcello was headed for free agency after this season. Following his trade from the Detroit Tigers in December for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, he came to terms on a one-year, Rick Porcello$12.5 million deal. The Red Sox now will have Porcello under contract until he’s 30 years old.

The 26-year-old is scheduled to start the team’s second game of the new season, Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Last year he went 15-13 with a career-best 3.43 ERA, and the first in which he pitched at least 200 innings (204). Lifetime, he is 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA, and a .547 winning percentage.

Since coming into the major leagues six years ago, he has consistently hit double figures in wins, but has never had an ERA lower than 3.43, which he attained last year, and which was his career best. Last year he led the American League in shutouts with three.

So, while this might seem like quite a bit of money for somebody who is just a bit above a lifetime .500 pitcher, the thought process must be that he is young and will only get better. Had he played out what could have been a contract year and done well, he surely would have fielded some bigger and longer offers.

Porcello grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, less than an hour from Yankee Stadium; he attended Seton Hall University, so it’s a good bet that Hank Steinbrenner would have been angling to bring him closer to home. That won’t happen for some time now.

Boston Red Sox Lose Fourth Straight For First Time Since 2012

TigersRedSoxBaseball

Even with a four-game skid after the Detroit Tigers came into Fenway Park to sweep the series, the Boston Red Sox still have plenty to be happy with in 2014.

The Red Sox had not lost more than three straight since losing the final eight contests of 2012 and this season’s team is not even close to how bad that team was throughout the regular season.

Sure, the 20-23 record is somewhat concerning, especially with the way the offense and pitching has been lately, but with only three games between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees in the AL East there is still plenty of games left in the season to turn it around.

The Red Sox are the 13th worst team in the AL with a .243 average to go along with the 12th worst home run total at 34. The average dips down to .240 with runners in scoring position and the main concern is that Xander Bogaerts has had 35 of the 363 at-bats with only a .143 average that includes two doubles and eight strikeouts.

If the Red Sox can find a way to win the one run games after a 5-10 start, then this squad will be right in the hunt for a playoff spot; though the biggest threat is not being able to get that big hit in close or tie ball games consistently.

The biggest plus for the Red Sox has to be the pitching staff going forward. The team has compiled a 3.79 ERA which is the best of the AL East and the sixth best in the AL through a little over a fourth of the season. That coupled with an outstanding 366 strikeouts for the third most behind the Yankees and Cleveland Indians means the Red Sox just need to keep the hitters from making contact.

The .264 average against puts the Red Sox at 11th in the AL and the average is even worse with runners in scoring position (.272). Sure, the Red Sox have been outscored by 12 runs on the season, but the pitching has kept them in most games. The bullpen has not been too shaky besides Edward Mujica and the starters have been second-best to the Oakland Athletics in quality starts.

The pitching is key is the AL East and will be what could lead this team to a playoff berth come September.

Boston Red Sox Set to Take on AL-Best Detroit Tigers

detroit tiger and Boston Red SoxThe Boston Red Sox may have lost two of three to the Minnesota Twins, but the Detroit Tigers are coming to town which means time to bring the best play to the table. The Red Sox started to hit against the weak Twins series and even rallied from a couple holes to make the two losses at least interesting. The reigning AL Champions will need to rely on both their pitching and offense to win against the 24-12 Tigers.

The Red Sox may be 20-20, but their pitching has really been the tale of the season with up-and-down starts and this series should be a pitcher’s duel until both teams reach the bullpens.

In the first game tonight, Jon Lester will go against Max Scherzer. Lester won last year’s matchup with Scherzer in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel and it should be another solid contest. Sure, the Red Sox will have trouble as they are 10-15 against righties this season which ranks among the bottom of MLB.

In Saturday’s contest, 5-2 John Lackey will get the ball opposite 6-1 Rick Porcello. Both starters have started off with ERAs of 3.57 and 3.22 respectively and should be another solid game.

In the finale at Fenway Park on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Jake Peavy will take on Anibal Sanchez. The 30-year-old right-handed starter will be activated before the contest for the Tigers. Peavy has been solid with a 1-1 record and an ERA under 4.00.

All of these contests should be close depending on how well the pitcher’s for Boston can limit the hot Tigers’ lineup and if the Red Sox lineup can hit all these right-handed starters.

The player that needs to be watched in this series has to be ex-Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez.The 35-year-old has a rejuvenated swing with a solid .336 average to go along with nine home runs and 23 RBI. The homers and average are tops among qualified players on the team. The switch-hitter may be playing mostly at DH, but his hitting alone will drive the Red Sox wild this series.

In a weekend series that is a must-see early in the season, the Tigers and Red Sox will put on a show for all baseball fans. This series could go either way, so there will be no prediction.

Enjoy the games!

Overview and Commentary on ALCS Games 3-5

ALCS Games 3-5

Mike Napoli crushing the ball in Game 3. Courtesy of fdlreporter.com.

Let’s take a look at the rundown of ALCS Games 3-5.

Game 3 was an exciting one with John Lackey providing, in my opinion, one of his finest performances, in both regular and post-season play, against an always tough Justin Verlander. Management of the pitching staff was close to perfect, too. John Farrell got it right. He pulled his starter at the right time, whether the starter liked it or not (and Lackey didn’t)! He let Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and, of course, Koji Uehara, do their thing in the final innings, but not overdue it, which can be tempting. This strategy worked. And would you believe it, Mike Napoli provided the home run that would clinch the win 1-0. Yes, Napoli is awake! The trend continued through Game 4 and 5 as he continued to contribute to the offense.

Jake Peavy didn’t seem to help the Red Sox in ALCS Game 4. What happened in the second inning was soul crushing. There was talk by sportscasters that his vision is poor at 20/300. You’ve got to wonder whether he can see anything at all. Furthermore, with such bad eye sight how is Peavy effective as a pitcher? The Tigers took advantage, living up to their name, and scored so many runs that by the 3rd inning a Detroit win seemed a foregone conclusion. After all, the bullpen was not ready to perform so early in the game.  In addition, the Sox defense was just horrific during Game 4. I don’t think I have seen this team play such poor defense all season! It seemed everyone took a bite out of a Butterfinger before Wednesday night’s tilt.

The only good that came of Game 4 was one Xander Bogaerts.  He made a name for himself as a major league offensive player, making management think twice about his potential.  He made people think “Hey why isn’t this guy in the lineup?” Sure enough, Thursday night’s Game 5 rolled around and he was in the lineup batting just before David Ross.

Game 5 was the polar opposite of Game 4. The Red Sox got the momentum going early off of pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Clearly, they learned a lot from Game 1. Jon Lester remained fairly solid, but faltered a bit; the offense saved him. Farrell turned to Junichi Tazawa first, and Craig Breslow next, to toss the middle innings. I believe that middle reliever combination was far more effective and should be utilized more often. It was right for the Tigers lineup, and also for Breslow, as I feel he needs additional bullpen time to warm up before taking the mound.

The Red Sox seem poised to earn a victory at home either Saturday or Sunday night. I look forward to the outcome. Though I wanted (and misguidedly predicted) the Sox to win in 5 games, I am glad our beloved team will be back on the grass at Fenway.

Just like Dorothy said, “there is no place like home,” and that could not be truer for this team.

Webster Solid In First Win

Webster

Back in spring training, perhaps Allen Webster dreamt of a June call up.  Maybe spell a starter or two in the dog days of summer.

Well June is over now, and Webster has seen his fair share of action.  The rookie hurler has now started five games for the Sox, earning his first win against the San Diego Padres.  A lingering shoulder injury to Clay Buchholz has warranted the starts, not necessarily Webster’s performances.

In his five starts, Webster owns a 7.88 ERA and a glaring 4.50 walk rate.  I’m not bashing Webster here.  Surely no one expected him to come in and dominate.  In fact you should have expected him to get roughed up a bit.  He’s faced the teeth of the AL central in the Tigers and the much improved Royals.  He faced the Royals in his first start and pitched his best then, allowing only one walk while striking out five.  His next two starts were ugly.  He lasted only an inning and a third against the Twins, and the Tigers knocked him around for five in four and a third innings.

The last two starts have been better.  In Toronto he was able to battle through six innings to keep the Sox in the game, eventually winning it.  Then, Thursday night, he was even better.  He scattered five hits and four walks through six innings to keep the Friars to two runs.

My knock on Webster is the walks. Even in the minors his walk rate is consistently high, but the strikeouts have always been there too.  We’ve seen both so far in his young career.  If he can command his pitches better he could be potent.  His fastball lights up the gun at 98 and his slider is nasty.  These two pitches are good enough to keep him around.  He just needs to command them.