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Monday, 20 February 2017 19:54

April Aces: Why Rick Porcello Should be Your Opening Day Starter

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John Farrell has quite the decision to make before April 3rd. John Farrell has quite the decision to make before April 3rd. CBS Boston

Some MLB teams have already come and announced their Opening Day starters. The Red Sox have yet to do so, and have a big decision in front of them with three potential candidates.

The Red Sox season is right around the corner (42 days to be exact) and the full squad is down in Florida for Spring Training.

Now is the time when fantasy guru’s and beginners start their research about who they want to draft for their fantasy baseball season. If you’re in a league for money, like me, you want to build a solid pitching rotation.

Whether you use Yahoo Sports or sports betting software, you need pitching to build a successful team.

The Red Sox did just that during the offseason when they acquired Chris Sale in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago White Sox. Though they didn’t use any betting software, they had Dave Dombrowski behind the wheel of this deal.

When the Sox got Sale, many questions arose about who would be the Opening Day starter because in the offseason before, David Price signed a massive contract and was expected to be the ace of a pitching rotation that so desperately needed help.

But along came Rick Porcello – fresh off a 2016 Cy Young award and who unofficially became the ace of the staff that Price was signed on to help.

I’ve been back and forth with who should get the ball for Opening Day. Maybe my grandmother and boyfriend influenced my decision after having countless conversations with both of them on this topic.

But after these conversations that have been more frequent as of late, it seems like a no-brainer.

So, who does Sox skipper John Farrell give the ball to when he has three potential aces waiting to take the mound?

Rick Porcello.

I had high hopes for Porcello going into the 2016 season and even said in our bold predictions piece that maybe my hopes were a little too high. They ended up not being high enough after the right-hander finished the season going 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA through 33 starts.

He struck out 189 batters through 223 innings of work.

Although his playoff start, and the entirety of the 2016 ALDS, was not what Red Sox Nation had expected, Farrell should still hand the ball to Pretty Ricky come April 3rd.

With big names like Price and Sale, it would be an easy choice to give them the start. But with how Price’s season went last year, it’s hard to trust him on the mound because he lacks the confidence the Sox rotation needs.

Between his tweets and constant reminders that he would get the Red Sox fans behind him, it’s obvious the pressure of pitching in a market like Boston got to Price in his first year here.

It’s understandable. Even though he’s pitched in the American League, Price never felt the pressure of pitching for a team where wins and playoff pushes are expected year in and year out.

Despite a 17-9 record, the inconsistency is what the real problem was. Sometimes he couldn’t get enough run support on his end, but that wasn’t his fault. But if he hadn’t given up five runs through his outing, he wouldn’t have needed to rely on the offense.

He had multiple double-digit strikeout games. But that came at the cost of giving up many runs and hits. Price gave up 233 hits in the 2016 season – the most in the league.

It was a disappointing first season from Price and in no way am I throwing in the towel because I believe he will pitch much better this season because he won’t be in that leading role where he won’t feel so much pressure.

In fact, he won’t even be in the two-spot. Because that’s where Sale will be.

He finished last season with the White Sox with a 17-10 record and a 3.34 ERA. Pretty close to how Price finished. We all heard about his issues with the team from the handling of Adam LaRoche having his son in the dugout to the cutting up of the throwback uniforms, but he’s going to bring the kind of attitude that Price needs to see.

Sale is going to Price on the right track and make him understand that it’s okay to not put so much worry into what the fans think.

So with Sale and Price in the two-three spots in the rotation, that leaves Porcello as your Opening Day Starter.

Maybe I’m crazy to think he deserves it, but he has most certainly earned it.

As I stated previously, he finished the 2016 season with a 22-4 record after an abysmal first season with Boston where he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA and only pitched 172 innings. Fans were ready to give up on him and some already had – calling his contract a waste of money, saying he should be traded etc.

Porcello did a complete 180 in 2016, even earning him the ball in Game 1 of the ALDS. Although his start did not go all that well (neither did Price’s, before you make the comparison), he still earned it because of how he pitched in the regular season.

He, like Sale, has the type of attitude you need from your ace. He took the leadership role and pitched his way to 22 wins, including an 89-pitch complete game shutout.  

This doesn’t take away from the talent I know both Price and Sale have. But Price needs to prove he can handle what Boston is as does Sale. But Sale will have an easier time here in Boston simply because of his attitude and mentality.

And after Porcello completed his dominant season by winning the Cy Young award, how do you deny the Opening Day start to him?

You don’t.

If you want MORE coverage of your team, check out Red Sox Beat Podcast here on CLNS Radio! The latest episode is below and check us out on ITUNES as well!   

 

 

 

Lauren Campbell

Lauren Campbell is a beat writer for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins at CLNS Radio. Currently, Lauren is also an account manager for Suburban Glass & Mirror.

Lauren studied at Framingham State University where she is a 2015 graduate with a degree in English and a concentration in journalism. She was the sports editor for the Universtiy's student newspaper, the Gatepost.

Before joining CLNS, Lauren interned at Comcast Sports Net New England, as well as the Medfield and Westwood Press newspapers.

Additionally, Lauren has been a freelance production assistant with MLB and NFL Network, and assisted in pre and post-game set up during the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park. She has also worked for ESPN and MLB International.

Lauren has been a lifetime die-hard Red Sox fan and is a baseball enthusiast.

You can follow Lauren on Twitter: @lalalalaurrrren

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