Who should the Red Sox have as their starter in 2017? Cy Young Winner Rick Porcello? New comer Chris Sale? Superstar David Price?
The opening day starter for any baseball team is supposed to be their best starter. The Red Sox last season had David Price and Rick Porcello with Price getting the nod. This year the Sox have Price, Porcello & now Chris Sale. Rick Porcello won the Cy Young last season. David Price had an off year. Chris Sale is quite possibly not only the player to watch in 2017 but a should be lock for the first game of the season.
The Sox might lean that way because of his skill set alone. Sale will have the Green Monster to deal more often this year and in his small sample size at Fenway, he’s been dominant in two of his three starts getting shellacked in the other matchup. A case can be made for all three starters so, just to play devil’s advocate, let’s explore the options shall we?
The case for Rick Porcello
There’s no question that what Rick Porcello did last year was remarkable. After all, improving from a 9-15 record with a 4.92 ERA in 2015 to a 22-4 record with a 3.15 ERA the following season is nothing short of great and what any team would expect from their Ace. Since 2009, Porcello has had what I like to call Josh Beckett Syndrome which is having one good year followed by having a bad year which has happened quite a bit for him. Should we discount the 22-4 outlier last year and see his numbers? If we did that we’re looking at an 85-78 career record.
Porcello has been consistent. Twice in his career he’s had a 14-9 record. In his 8 big league seasons Porcello has hit 10 wins in seven seasons. He’s only cracked the 15 mark twice, both within the last three seasons. Porcello’s also rocked an ERA above 4 in 5 of his 8 seasons including two seasons at 4.92 almost a 5 spot. A 6th season’s ERA was almost at 4 with a number of 3.96. Not really Ace numbers. One more number that Porcello has never hit? 200. Porcello has never hit 200 strike outs in any of his 8 big league seasons.
He has been extremely durable which is one thing we’re thankful for. I think Rick Porcello is best suited as an above average two man or elite 3 option. Taking in the fact that he won the Cy Young last season might give him an edge as with the JB Syndrome, he’s had an awful year in Boston followed by the best year of his year. Thank goodness last season wasn’t a contract year.
The case for David Price
David Price has been a great pitcher in baseball over the last decade. With Price you know you’re gonna get innings and you’re going to get strike outs. Price is behind Porcello in the depth chart given his bumpy 2016 season. But skill level aside? Is he really behind Porcello? Not even close. Even with Chris Sale in the mix, Price has merely fallen to number #2 in the rotation. Given his talent and ability, Price should be slotted no lower than 2nd for this upcoming season.
In 8 years as a starter Price has cracked 200 strike outs 5 times out of 8 missing 200 twice more by 11 and 12 total strike outs. Price has cracked the 20 win column just once back in 2012 as a member of the Rays. His average ERA after 2016 is 3.21 which is almost a full run less than Rick Porcello’s career average ERA at 4.20. Players may have an off year. I’ve always felt that players are allowed a mulligan year but, they need to make up for it the following season. Porcello had one and made up for it. I’d like to assume that Price had one as well.
Now all we can do is hope that he makes up for it in 2017. If we throw last season’s numbers out which, still weren’t all that bad as far as wins go, as he did put up a 17-9 record, he still had a 3.99 ERA. We’d have to give a pass to Porcello if we allowed that ERA to fly. The reason why it doesn’t? David Price is getting $30 million annually. I’m expecting 20+ wins, an ERA around 3.00 and 225+ strike outs. Annually. That’s what $30 million should get you. A 17-9 record with a 3.99 ERA and 228 strike outs is not going to cut it. Price is your elite number 2 man.
The case for Chris Sale
When Chris Sale’s trade was made official to the Red Sox I was ecstatic and upset at the same time. Ecstatic because we just got Chris Sale. Upset because we coughed up Michael Kopech our young stud pitcher and Yoan Moncada, whose combination of power and speed in the minors was scaring every GM that wasn’t associated with the Red Sox. Now that the trade has happened, we can focus on the positive.
Chris Sale has been in baseball for 7 years and only been a starter in 5 of those seasons. He’s cracked 200 strike outs the last 4 seasons and had 10+ wins in all 5 years as a starter. He’s gotten 17 wins twice, a number he’ll no doubt pass as a member of the Red Sox with a high octane offense that is ready to do damage once again. In 2014, Chris Sale had an ERA of 2.17, that’s insane. Sale allowed 13 home runs and still managed 208 strike outs. The following season the ERA rose to 3.41, pitched 34 2/3 more innings and got 66 more strike outs.
Chris Sale is also a huge innings eater. If there’s one guy that gets to have one extra start at the end of the season, you’re gonna want to have Sale in charge of that honor. 6 complete games and another 3-5 had he had more run support in Chicago last season. He’s also ranked in the top 5 for Cy Young votes each of the last 4 seasons. The fact of the matter is, the Red Sox have two Cy Young winners in Price ’12 and Porcello ’16 and a future winner in Sale whether it be in 2017, 2018, or beyond.
Numbers don’t lie and fans won’t like seeing Chris Sale less than they should especially, when he is statistically speaking, their best pitcher. Chris Sale should start the season as the Opening Day starter for the Sox when they face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 3rd in Boston.
Photo Credit: Jim Rogash – Getty Images – Boston Globe
Photo Credit: David Price – Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Chris Sale – MLB.com