BOSTON -- Though Rick Porcello won't need to clear space for another Cy Young Award trophy for his body of work in 2017, his recovery after a slow start has been a key element for the red-hot Red Sox.
Porcello (six innings, three hits, one earned run, four strikeouts) pitched Boston to a 5-1 victory over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, giving him a 4-0 record in his last four starts to coincide with the 14-3 roll his team is on.
"The numbers show that he's winning more games," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "But that's been a combination of a few things. He's maintained the strike zone. He's been better to the overall quality in the strike zone with command. And we've scored runs for him."
Given that there's no certainty David Price (left elbow injury) will pitch again this season, Porcello's rebound could be key for Boston.
The truth is that Porcello's in-season resurgence started before the wins started piling up again.
From April through June, Porcello was 4-10 with a 5.06 ERA.
In July and August, he is 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA.
"I think he was bound to be a little more fortunate on balls in play in the second half," said Red Sox assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister. "The first half didn't go his way. I think he's continued to evolve as a pitcher and kind of re-define himself in the second half. He's changed his mix up a little bit. He's attacking different areas of the strike zone more often, and I just think he's put himself in a good position to have a really strong second half."
In the first half, Porcello's BAPIP was .346. He has reduced it to .283 since the All-Star break.
"He's getting ahead in the count and making all four of his pitches, and making his secondary pitches the last five or six starts," said Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon. "He's been fighting all season and competing and is one of the best pitchers we have."
When Porcello was asked about his own turnaround after Sunday's game, he instead changed the subject to his team.
"Yeah, I think we all feel good as a ballclub," said Porcello.
The even-keeled demeanor Porcello has always been known for again served him well after his tough start this season.
"The thing that I look at the most is he's Top 10 in the Major Leagues in innings pitched," said Bannister. "That's the kind of pitcher you want on your staff. He's out there giving us six or seven every time out, and the win-loss record doesn't back that up, but a lot of that is out of a pitchers' control. He's continued to just give us steady innings. I think you're seeing him build some momentum and some confidence and the ball is going his way right now."
Though the overall numbers (8-14, 4.48 ERA) for Porcello aren't going to wow anyone, he is fourth in MLB with 164 2/3 innings.
"Very special," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "He's been able to come in, execute, get the job done, and it's been a lot of fun playing behind him."