The Pitching Matchup
Porcello vs. Snell
Rick Porcello has been fantastic in 2018 and is on pace to come pretty close to his Cy Young award winning numbers. Those numbers will not win him the Cy Young in 2018, but they are incredibly strong. The Red Sox brought in retired sinkerball pitcher and Red Sox alumni Derek Lowe to work with Porcello and the results have been there. His HR/9 are way down to 0.71. His strikeout rate is a career high 24.4%. His ground ball percentage is back up to 48.3% after a down year last year where it dropped all the way to 39.9% resulting in a 1.68 HR/9 career high. The key to his success has been obvious.
- Keep the ball down
- Reduced usage of the fastball and curveball. Increased use of the slider and changeup.
Only in 2013 had Porcello thrown this many changeups (15%) and he has never thrown this few fastballs (47.6%) or this many sliders (25.6%). As hitters adjust to his new pitch usage, we might see some regression, but his variance between pitches is so strong and he looks so comfortable in all counts that its hard to imagine many patterns emerging. Porcello has great numbers against the Rays in 2018 and already has started 4 times against them (2-0, 3.10 ERA).
The Rays counter with Blake Snell who has electric stuff and has been one of the best pitchers at home with a 1.07 ERA. He has been on fire after a slow start to the season and last threw a gem against Boston on April 27th.
Players to Watch
TB: Brad Miller has a career OPS of 1.052 and has 5 home runs against Porcello.
BOS: None of the Red Sox have great career numbers in a small sample against Snell, so when in doubt, watch MVP frontrunner and MLB home run leader Mookie Betts. Betts has been on fire over his last 5 games (as usual) going 7 for his last 19 with 3 HR, 7 RBI and 3 BB while striking out just twice.