In any given Major League Baseball season, there is a certain group of players that you can take a look at and immediately be able to tell that they radiate with Mets Energy. Before even diving into how he did last season or how he might do in this bizarre shortened season, Rick Porcello’s past accolades determines his level of Met more than anything else. As is the case with most Mets signings, things aren’t exactly on the upswing for Porcello and Big Important Awards are the selling point.
The club’s press release for the transaction made sure to phrase the move like this: “The New York Mets today announced that the club has signed Cy Young Award-winning right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello to a one-year deal.” Never mind the fact that the Cy Young was in 2016, the same year that Jeurys Familia got 51 saves and a few MVP votes. Of course, Porcello is also a Local Boy so his homeland of New Jersey was mentioned and he stays remarkably healthy, leading to the inclusion of the fun fact of him having 10 or more wins in 10 or more seasons, another very Mets thing to boast about for a guy who had the worst qualified ERA in the league last season.
On the subject of his 2019 season with the Red Sox, the nicest thing you can say about it for Porcello is that he made 32 starts which is a nice display of durability in an era where full seasons without extended absences can be hard to come by. When you move past the nice compliment, you notice that he had a 5.52 ERA which was the highest mark in baseball, .14 points higher than his closest contemporary. His HR/9 in our world of big juicy baseballs was 1.60, the fifth highest in the sport. But, to his credit, his 2.32 BB/9 was the 22nd best mark in the majors, just slightly higher than Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard’s.
With his 2019 in the rear-view, the big question is what to expect from Porcello in the 60-game 2020 season. The answer to that question is a very unsatisfying “he’ll be okay.” Outside of his 2016 Cy Young campaign, Porcello has more or less been slightly above or slightly below average going all the way back to 2009. For his career, even with 2016 included, Porcello holds a career ERA+ of 99, 1% less than average relative to the league. Assuming he didn’t go through a Randy Johnson-esque career revitalization at 31 years of age, his performance in the exhibition game against the Yankees isn’t too far off of what Porcello will provide. Last Saturday wasn’t Porcello’s first start of five innings with three runs allowed, and it almost definitely won’t be his last.
To put it simply, Porcello won’t be the ace of the Mets, but he’ll be far from the team’s worst starter on any given Sunday. He’ll probably be healthy to the point of amazement and he’ll have at least one stellar start that will be hailed as his blossoming. He’s a guy who has a World Series ring on his finger and a Cy Young from four years ago in his trophy cabinet. Rick Porcello, with his accolades in his past and a late-career uncertainty in his future is, in its purest form, the essence of being a Mets Dude.