Rick Porcello doesn’t need to give the New York Mets a Cy Young season in 2020. He just needs to give them an opportunity to win every fifth day.
While Porcello may not be the direct replacement, he does push everyone up one spot in the rotation. However you want to call it, he’s the new starter on the Mets and how he performs will say a lot about where this team finishes.
Throughout his career, Porcello has given his teams little chance of predicting exactly what he would do. He has a reputation as an every-other-year arm, but it’s not entirely true. For many years with the Detroit Tigers, he was a productive fifth starter on a team anchored by some of the best in the game.
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Porcello’s time with the Boston Red Sox fluctuated even more. In year one, he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA. A season later he went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA. He took home the Cy Young in this campaign.
The follow-up to his Cy Young season included a league-leading 17-loss season and a 4.65 ERA. He came back with a 17-win year and lower ERA but went back to bad again in 2019.
I would love to predict what Porcello will do with the Mets. Aside from staying healthy, there’s not much we can really accurately predict for him in the upcoming year. His actual numbers have a wide range. More predictable players trend up or down whereas he’ll swing back the other way.
The most important thing Porcello must do is win. It’s all I’m asking for. He can do it with a 4.53 ERA or drop it down into the 2.00s. We know wins don’t matter for a pitcher, thanks to Jacob deGrom.
However, in Porcello’s case, I think it’s the most essential element of his game.
Porcello has been fortunate to play for some really good teams with big-time offenses. On another team, his record wouldn’t look nearly as sweet. It’s quite possible Porcello is one of those guys who pitches up or down to his competition. I think this is going to be a storyline in 2020. We’ll all ask the Mets to save some runs for our boy, deGrom.
With a career .558 winning percentage, Porcello’s track-record suggests the Mets will win more than they’ll lose when he’s on the mound. It’s no guarantee, though. deGrom’s career winning percentage is higher and he has suffered some bad fate in this department.
What we think of Porcello in 2020 will depend a lot on how many runs the Mets score for him. I don’t foresee a switch to the National League inspiring another Cy Young season although a drop in ERA is completely reasonable. Something around the 3.96 Wheeler posted last year would be great. It’s also exactly what the Mets need from him.
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Wheeler was an imperfect pitcher, but over the last two seasons, he regularly gave the Mets wins or at least a chance to come away victorious. It’s a small favor to ask from Porcello. Make this team better than the 86-win squad it was in 2019.