By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The last time Rick Porcello pitched the first game of the season was in high school. A decade later, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner gets the ball on Opening Day for the first time in his career in Monday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Porcello is focused on being ready for the coming season – and, like the rest of the team, forgetting about last year’s disastrous postseason defeat to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series.
After compiling a 22-4 record and a career-best 3.15 ERA in the regular season, Porcello surrendered five earned runs in just 4.1 innings in his only ALDS start against the Indians, the first Game 1 start of his playoff career. He allowed three third-inning home runs.
Porcello acknowledged the massive disappointment from his start and the entire series, which the Indians swept 3-0. But now, he’s looking ahead without worrying too much about the past.
“You can’t just sit there and dwell about one game or one series,” Porcello told reporters on Sunday. “We’ve got to keep pushing forward and keep working towards our goals.”
Porcello is well aware that the Red Sox have a 162-game grind to worry about – and that with April just getting started, they can’t be thinking about October yet.
“Nothing’s set in stone that we’re going to get back [to the postseason],” said Porcello. “We’ve got to do the same thing all over again this year and it’s a completely new journey. We’ve got some new guys on our team. You take what you can from your past successes and failures, but at the end of the day it’s about what’s in front of you and what we’ve got coming up.”
[graphiq id=”41cbNtI3Ib3″ title=”Rick Porcello 2016 Monthly ERA and K/BB” width=”600″ height=”543″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/41cbNtI3Ib3″ link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/13103/Rick-Porcello” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]
Porcello has a career 16-14 record with a 5.47 ERA in March and April, but went 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA in that same time frame last season. His strong April in 2016 followed up a rough spring; this season has been more of the same for Porcello, who sported a 7.07 ERA in four spring training starts.
The 28-year-old feels confident that he’s worked out the issues he had in the spring and is ready to show his Cy Young form on Opening Day. And once he can do that, he’s excited to settle into getting the ball every fifth day.
“I feel comfortable with where I’m at right now with my delivery. It’s very similar to last spring, started out throwing the ball pretty well and then some bad habits crept in,” said Porcello. “[I] worked on getting things under control with my delivery and getting comfortable with that. I felt like I was really coming into it the last week, week-and-a-half of spring training, so I feel good.
“Once we get through Opening Day and get into a routine, everything kind of settles in and we can get to work.”
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.