Three Particular K’s Highlight Porcello’s Night vs. LAA

Rick Porcello continued his strong start to the season and, along with a blistering Sox offense, propelled Boston to their 15th win of the year. Porcello was mostly sharp throughout, occasionally getting into a jam but always working himself out of it. He went 6 full innings vs. the potent Angels offense, allowing 6 hits and 0 walks while racking up 6 K’s, many of them in very timely situations.

Porcello’s most important pitch, the sinker, was on all game. It was tight, with decent velocity and late movement, and he located it well throughout the night, often up in the zone against an Angels team that hits low pitches really well. Of his 101 pitches (71 for strikes), he threw that sinker just under 50% of the time, inducing softly hit balls on a respectable 61% of balls in play.

A few of his pitch sequences were particularly impressive and should be highlighted.

With 1 out and the bases juiced in the 1st, Porcello struck out Calhoun on 3 pitches. He started with 2 straight sliders, the 1st high and on the outer half, freezing Calhoun, who clearly wasn’t expecting off speed on the 1st pitch, and the 2nd at the knees and just off the outside of the plate, breaking away from Calhoun, who swung over the ball. He followed up by reaching back and blowing a 93 mph fastball at the letters right past him.

He was in some trouble again in the 3rd. With men on 1st and 2nd and 1 out, Albert Pujols stepped up to the plate. Porcello threw a first pitcher sinker high and on the outer half, then a fastball at the top of the zone that Pujols swung through. Pujols fouled off his next pitch, another fastball at the letters, then Porcello changed speeds and Pujols’ eye level with a slider down and well off the outside black that Pujols swung haplessly at for Porcello’s 4th K of the game.

The last example of smart pitching by Porcello came in the 4th to Maldonado. Again with a runner on base, Porcello logged a K with a first pitch sinker low in the zone, followed by a changeup just below the knees for a ball and another changeup in the lower inside corner that Maldonado fouled off. With a couple balls to play with, Porcello tried to get Maldonado chasing with a slider outside for a ball, then spotted a fastball on the outside black for the backwards K.

So, while Porcello’s night may have been spotted with some self-induced trouble, particularly early in innings, pitch sequences like those above show just how good he can be when he’s on. If he’s spotting his fastball, has his sinker working, and is mixing in his slider and changeup to keep the hitter’s timing off, he can be one of the more effective pitchers in the MLB, and so far this year he’s done just that.

(Header photo credit: Boston Globe)

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