I believe in a thing called Rick Porcello. Some of you are thinking "at last." Others of you are thinking "he's finally lost it." Actually, I'm sure you folks have thought I lost it long ago. I explained the reasoning in this week's column in the News.
For years, I have not been ready to buy into Porcello. Actually, for most of the years I've probably been ready to send him off in whatever trade rumor was floated. Some people love him. I saw a player not taking his next steps. He didn't strike people out. He didn't have the right team around him. He was an odd fit. May as well get something useful for him.
Meanwhile it felt like yearly someone was touting him as a breakout candidate. His sabermetric stats would tell you he steadily improved. And of course, every year someone would tell you what level of pro ball people his age played at. "Hey, don't knock him, guys his age are still at High-A. He's in the MLB." Well, he was. And he was doing well enough to stay there. But the results were only incrementally improving and the player who was once thought to have such a hot future as to be untradeable even for the best returns. So there was Porcello, saber darling, but in reality a fourth or fifth starter. You need those, of course. But generally not from a guy hyped for his front-line potential.
Last year he learned to strike people out with some regularity. This year he has an infield around him build to vacuum up those ground balls. He still has to do a better job getting left-handed batters out, as the splits clearly show, but he seems primed to finally have the resulting ERA catch up to the sabermetric hype that has always been just outside his grasp.