Rick Porcello

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Frederick Alfred Porcello III (born December 27, 1988) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Detroit Tigers. He won the 2016 American League Cy Young award with the Red Sox.

His manager, Jim Leyland, chose to start him in the 2009 American League Central tie-breaker game over Nate Robertson, Eddie Bonine, and Armando Galarraga. In 2009, he was the youngest player in the American League. [39]

Amateur career

Porcello graduated from Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, New Jersey in 2007. In his senior season, he compiled a 10–0 record with 103 strikeouts and a 1.44 ERA in 63 innings pitched. [3] He threw a perfect game on May 12, 2007 against Newark Academy.

Although Porcello signed a letter of intent to attend the University of North Carolina, he later declined in order to pursue his professional career in Major League Baseball. Porcello was drafted 27th overall in the first round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Tigers. [4] His choice of sports agent Scott Boras to advise him may have scared away some teams, knocking him down to the 27th spot even though he was ranked No. 1 among high school prospects entering the draft. [3] Porcello had been described as an "ace" who could be a "bona fide No. 1 starter." [4] He was also known as a "special" pitcher. Porcello was signed by the Detroit Tigers to a $7.28 million, [6] four-year deal with two one-year options. The total contract is worth $11.1 million, making Porcello the highest-paid high schooler ever. [7] He also received a $3.5 million signing bonus, the second-largest ever given out by the Tigers, surpassed only by the $3.55 million [8] given to 2006 first round pick Andrew Miller.

Minor league career

Porcello played the entire 2008 season with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Detroit's advanced class-A affiliate. He earned his first victory against the Tampa Yankees on April 3, 2008. On May 12, he was named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week. [9] On July 19, he took part in a seven inning combined no-hitter against the St. Lucie Mets. [10] Porcello finished the season with a record of 8–6 in 125 innings pitched. His 2.66 ERA was the lowest in the FSL. [39]

Major league career

Detroit Tigers


On February 7, 2009, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski stated that Porcello would be considered for the final spot in the Tigers rotation, pending his spring training performance. [39] Porcello began drawing comparisons to Boston Red Sox ace Josh Beckett, namely from Tigers official Al Avila, who was the Florida Marlins scouting director when the team drafted Beckett in 1999. [39] On April 1, Dombrowski confirmed that Porcello would make the 2009 opening day roster after posting a 2.63 ERA in five Grapefruit League games. Dombrowski stated:

On April 9, Porcello made his Major League debut against Toronto, opposite Blue Jays rookie pitcher Ricky Romero. The game marked the first time in MLB history that two first-round picks faced each other in their respective debuts. [39] Porcello pitched five innings and took the loss for Detroit. He struck out four batters and allowed four runs on eight hits. [39]

On April 19, Porcello earned his first career win in an 8–2 victory over the Seattle Mariners. He allowed one run and struck out three in seven innings with no walks. He retired the final 14 batters he faced. [39]

Porcello won all five games he started in May. He became the youngest pitcher to win five starts in a row since Dwight Gooden won seven in a row in 1985, as well as the first Tiger age 20 or younger to win five consecutive starts since at least 1954 (research prior to that year is incomplete). [39]

On August 11, during a game against the Boston Red Sox, Porcello hit Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. Youkilis charged the mound and threw his helmet right in front of Porcello. Porcello tackled Youkilis, both went down, and both benches cleared. Both players were ejected for the brawl and were each sentenced to a five-game suspension.

Despite his youth, Porcello was selected by Tiger manager Jim Leyland to pitch in the one-game tie-breaker playoff for the AL Central Division crown after the Tigers and Minnesota Twins both finished the regular season at 86–76. Porcello allowed two runs (one earned) in 52 3 innings of work, getting a no-decision in the game that the Twins eventually won in 12 innings. [39]

Porcello finished the 2009 season with a 14–9 record and 3.96 ERA. On November 16, it was announced that Porcello finished third in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year, behind Andrew Bailey of the Oakland Athletics and Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers. [39]


Porcello began the 2010 season with a 4–7 record, accumulating a 6.14 ERA. On June 20, 2010 he was sent down to AAA Toledo. [21] He was called back up on July 17 to face the Indians. [22] In his first start back with the team, he had quite possibly the best start of his career to date, continuing the trend of struggling starters in the Tiger rotation finding success after stints with the Mud Hens. He went eight innings against the Indians, allowing one run, striking out six and walking none. [23]

Porcello finished the 2010 season with a 10–12 record, going 5–1 in his last 7 starts and bringing his season ERA down to 4.92.


Porcello entered Spring Training competing for a job in the Tigers starting rotation, battling with teammates Phil Coke, Jacob Turner, and Brad Penny for a spot. He ended up in the Tigers rotation for the 2011 season.

He started in 31 games for the Tigers, pitching 182 innings (his career high for a season, through 2013) and accumulating a 14-9 record, 104 strikeouts and a 4.75 ERA.

In the 2011 postseason, Porcello made four appearances (two starts), compiling an 0–1 record with a 4.80 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings.


On January 6, 2012, Porcello opted out of an option for 2012 included in his four-year contract, becoming arbitration eligible and under team control through 2015. [24] After gaining Super Two status by reaching the required amount of service time, Porcello gained an extra year of arbitration eligibility, which was 2012. On January 16, Porcello agreed to a one-year, $3.1 million deal with the Tigers, avoiding arbitration. Because he filed for arbitration and did not accept his option for 2012, he earned an extra $1.76 million. [25]

Porcello made 31 starts in 2012, going 10–12 with a 4.59 ERA. He struck out a career-high 107 batters on the season, but also surrendered a career-high 226 hits. Porcello was on the postseason roster for the Tigers, who went all the way to the World Series, but he pitched only 11 3 postseason innings, allowing no runs.


On January 18, 2013, Porcello signed a one-year, $5.1 million contract with the Tigers to avoid arbitration for a second time. [26] With the Tigers signing fourth starter Aníbal Sánchez to a five-year deal, Porcello competed with Drew Smyly for the fifth and final spot in the Tigers rotation. On March 26, it was announced that Porcello had won the No. 5 starter job over Smyly. [14]

In his Tigers career through 2012, Porcello wore uniform number 48. When the Tigers acquired outfielder Torii Hunter – who also wears number 48 – in the 2012–13 offseason, Hunter made a monetary offer for the number. Porcello, a New Jersey native, instead asked Hunter to donate the money he offered to victims of Hurricane Sandy, and Porcello changed to number 21 for the 2013 season.

In a May 28 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Porcello pitched eight shutout innings and fanned 11 batters to establish a new career high for strikeouts in a game. [28]

On June 30, Porcello threw a pitch that hit Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays. It was widely thought that the pitch was in retaliation for a pitch that Rays reliever Fernando Rodney threw near the head of Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera the night before. The benches were warned and there were no incidents the remainder of the game, but two days later, MLB suspended Porcello six games and fined him an undisclosed amount. On September 10, Porcello pitched his first career complete game in his 147th major league start, resulting in a 9–1 win over the Chicago White Sox. Porcello retired 14 consecutive batters after escaping a fourth-inning jam that yielded his only run allowed. [29]

Porcello finished the regular season with a 13–8 record, 4.32 ERA, and a career-high 142 strikeouts.


On January 17, 2014, Porcello and the Tigers avoided arbitration for the third straight season by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $8.5 million. [30]

On June 26, Porcello pitched his first career complete game shutout in a 6–0 win over the Texas Rangers. He gave up just three hits in the game, striking out six and throwing 115 pitches. [4] In his next start on July 1, Porcello pitched a complete game shutout in a 3–0 win over the Oakland Athletics, giving up four hits, striking out zero, walking no one, and throwing 95 pitches. Porcello became the first Tiger to pitch back-to-back shutouts since Jack Morris in 1986. He became the first Major League pitcher to throw a shutout without a walk or a strikeout since Jeff Ballard on August 21, 1989. [4] On a more recent distinction, he was also the first Major League pitcher to throw a no-strikeout shutout since Derek Lowe did for the Indians on May 15, 2012. [4]

On August 20, Porcello pitched his third complete game shutout of the season in a 6–0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, giving up three hits, striking out four and walking none. Porcello is the first Tiger pitcher to throw at least three shutouts in a season since Jeff Weaver in 2002. Porcello's three shutouts tied him with Henderson Álvarez for the major league lead. [4] On August 26, Rick defeated the New York Yankees 5–2 for his 15th victory of the season, establishing a new career high in wins. He had won 14 games in two prior seasons (2009, 2011). [4] Rick struggled down the stretch, however, going 0–4 with a 6.20 ERA in September. [4] He would finish the 2014 regular season with a 15–13 record, 129 strikeouts, and a career-best 3.43 ERA. He topped 200 innings pitched for the first time in his career, with 2042 3 .

Boston Red Sox

On December 11, 2014, the Tigers traded Porcello to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Yoenis Céspedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier. [4] On April 6, 2015, Porcello and the Red Sox agreed on a 4-year contract extension worth $82.5 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus. [4] [4]


On August 2, 2015, Porcello was placed on the Disabled List (retroactive to July 30) for the first time in his career, with the Red Sox stating he was suffering from triceps soreness and inflammation. At the time, Rick was mired in his worst season, statistically, having posted a 5–11 record and a 5.81 ERA prior to the injury. [4] He returned August 26 and threw seven shutout innings in a 3–0 win over the Chicago White Sox. [4] In his next start, September 1 against the New York Yankees, Porcello struck out a career-high 13 batters in 8 innings, but lost a 3-1 decision. [4] Porcello finished his first season in Boston with a 9–15 record in 28 starts, and an ERA of 4.92 which tied his career high. He gave up a career-high 25 home runs, but also had a career-high strikeout rate (7.8 K/9).


Porcello rebounded from a bad season by leading the Red Sox back to the playoffs on the way to winning the Cy Young award. On September 9, 2016, Porcello became the first Major League pitcher to reach 20 wins in the current season, as the Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 13–3. [4] Porcello led the major leagues in 2016 with 22 wins (against four losses) and posted career bests in most major statistical categories, including: innings pitched (223), strikeouts (189), ERA (3.15) and WHIP (1.01). He also allowed 32 walks over the entire season, leading the major leagues with a 5.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Porcello's 26 quality starts were tied for the AL lead (with former teammate and eventual Cy Young runner up Justin Verlander). [4]

On November 7, Porcello was announced by the BBWAA as a finalist for the 2016 American League Cy Young Award, along with Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber. [4]

On November 9, Porcello was named the American League's Outstanding Pitcher, given by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA).

On November 16, Porcello won the 2016 American League Cy Young Award in unique fashion. He became the first pitcher in American League history to win the award despite not receiving the most first-place votes from the BBWAA. Justin Verlander received 14 first-place votes to Porcello's 8, but two Tampa Bay writers left Verlander off their five-pitcher ballots entirely. Porcello received the most second-place votes of anyone appearing on a ballot, giving him the award. The final tally of 137 to 132 was the third closest vote since 1970. Porcello's 8 first place votes out of 30 possible first place votes was the third fewest for a Cy Young winner. The outcome of the vote inspired Verlander's longtime girlfriend, actress and model Kate Upton, to tweet "Hey @MLB I thought I was the only person allowed to fuck Justin Verlander?!" [4]

Porcello became just the 4th Red Sox pitcher to win the award joining Jim Lonborg, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martínez. [4]

Personal life

Porcello, a resident of Chester Township, New Jersey, was inducted into the Spanish National Honor Society at Seton Hall Prep. He graduated with a four-year weighted cumulative GPA of 3.94. [4] His older brother Zach is a pitching coach at Seton Hall University. His younger brother Jake is a 2009 graduate of Seton Hall Prep and is currently a pitcher at Seton Hall University and was drafted by the Tigers in the 48th round of the 2009 draft. [4] He received pitching training from the former Morristown Beard School Baseball pitching coach, Mike Sturgeon.

Porcello is the maternal grandson of Sam Dente, [4] [75] who played for the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series. [11]

Pitching style

Porcello is a groundball pitcher who relies on a sinking two-seam fastball. He throws his two-seamer about half the time, ranging around 90 mph. [46] He also has a four-seam fastball in the 91–93 range (tops out at 94–95 mph) and a circle changeup in the low 80s which is used mostly on left-handed hitters. He used to throw an occasional slider, but scrapped it prior to the 2013 season for a more effective upper-70s curveball. [46] [47] Porcello's former pitching coach Jeff Jones for the Tigers describes the curve as a "change of pace, something that he can throw as a first pitch to a left-handed hitter for a strike." [48]

Porcello's groundball rate in 2013 was 55.3%, the highest of his career and one of the best in the majors, while his flyball rate was only 23.7%. [49]

Awards and recognition

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