Rick Porcello announced his presence within the Red Sox rotation with gusto last night vs. the hated Yankees. One game after a benches clearing brawl between the two clubs, Porcello shut down a New York offense that posted 10 on the Red Sox the previous day. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning.
Porcello was excellent in every facet of his game. His location was very good, throwing 66 of his 99 pitches for strikes, and it could have been more had the home plate umpire kept a consistent strike zone in the first 2 innings. His velocity was there, averaging 90.1 mph on his fastball, which is right on par with his career average, and he varied his pitch selection very well, using 5 different pitches and mixing in his off speed stuff nearly 60% of the time. The most effective aspect of his performance, though, was his “stuff,” as we like to call it. Take a look at the graphic below.
(Photo credit: Fangraphs)
That’s a graph of the movement on each of his pitches last night. You can see with a quick look how nasty his stuff was. In fact, he averaged 12.2″ of movement across his 5 pitches. That kind of movement led to what I’m considering his most important stat of the night: ground ball %.
Earlier on in his career, Porcello was considered a ground ball pitcher. He used to hover around a 55% GB%, but that number has dropped in each year since he arrived in Boston, all the way down to career low 39.2% last year. Versus the Yankees last night, though, Porcello forced a ground ball on 53% of his balls in play. He allowed 0 line drives, and only 11.8% of his balls in play were hit hard, according to Fangraphs. These are the kind of numbers that are so important to Porcello’s success but have been elusive to him in recent years, and against the vaunted Yankees lineup, it makes it all the more impressive.
Porcello is now 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA, .76 WHIP, and .192 OBA on the year. He’s been one of the more surprising members of the Sox rotation and can continue to be a key contributor if he can find a way to pitch the way he has so far.