The reigning AL CY Young winner, Rick Porcello, gave up a career-high four home runs in a 10-5 loss Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
In his first three starts of the season, Porcello has surrendered 25 hits and 14 earned runs in 16.2 innings. The right-hander sits at 1-1 with a harsh ERA of 7.56 and a WHIP that reads 1.74.
‘‘Mechanically, I’m pretty much the same,’’ Porcello said to the Associated Press after Friday’s game. ‘‘It’s just pinpointing the fastball. I’m not locating it well enough to get myself in advantage counts and it’s causing me to leave pitches over the plate when I fall behind.’’
Analyzing his four home runs he let up in Friday’s game, Porcello was never in a favorable count where he could throw the pitch he wanted. Except, for the fresh 0-0 count Brad Miller homered on with one out in the fifth inning, but even then Porcello missed Sandy Leon’s outside target leaving a fastball over the middle of the plate for the powerful lefty to take over the centerfield fence.
Steven Souza Jr. followed with a 3-2 fly ball, off a changeup, as it barely made its way into the first row of Monster seats.
Porcello exited the game after those back-to-back homers with one out in the fifth, snapping the major’s longest active streak of pitching at least 6.0 innings hurled at 20 games.
Porcello is a ground-ball pitcher who relies on keeping his arsenal low in the zone. His early struggles are being generated from not getting ahead in counts and occasionally leaving a mistake pitch up in the zone for someone to drive.
The homer to Miller and a grand slam to Logan Morrison were caused by leaving pitches up in the zone and missing locations. However, I would attribute Shane Peterson and Souza Jr.’s dingers to solid pieces of hitting.
Porcello has already given up five home runs in 16.2 innings this season, while in 2016 he allowed 23 home runs in 223.0 frames en route to an MLB-high 22 wins.
Porcello will settle back into his Cy Young caliber self once he is able to pinpoint his fastball for a strike and limit his mistake pitches over the heart of the plate.
He looks to bounce back in his next start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday April 19th at 7:07 p.m.