Rick Porcello

Saturday's Red Sox-Angels matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Garrett Richards

July 18, 2015 - 8:37 am

In the second game of the season's unofficial second half, the Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to take on Garrett Richards of the Angels.

The Red Sox hope that a few extra days of rest over the All-Star break will allow Porcello to right himself for the remaining 2 1/2 months of the season. The first half of Porcello's first season in Boston was abysmal, as the right-hander struggled to a 5-9 record and a 5.90 ERA.

After trading for Porcello in the offseason and subsequently signing him to a four-year, $82.5 million contract, the Red Sox have seen that their investment has not yielded worthwhile returns to date. Among qualified starters, Porcello's ERA is the highest in the American League and third highest in all of baseball.

Despite owning some ugly stats thus far, Porcello was able to record a win in his final start before the break on July 8. Prior to that contest, his last victory came on May 16, a span of almost two full months. Porcello, 26, snapped a streak of eight straight winless starts, during which he lost seven consecutive decisions.

The win came against the Marlins, a game in which Porcello hurled six innings and allowed two runs while striking out four. He did allow eight hits, but none went for extra bases and Porcello was able to work his way around baserunners while limiting the damage. The Sox won by a 6-3 margin and swept the two-game set against Miami.

For Porcello, the game was the first opportunity to work with Ryan Hanigan since the catcher returned from a broken hand. Porcello had pitched better with Hanigan behind the dish prior to the injury, and the pattern continued against the Marlins. In four starts with Hanigan, Porcello has a 3.60 ERA as compared with a 6.70 ERA in 13 starts with either Sandy Leon or Blake Swihart catching.

"With Porcello, we had a good thing going before I got hurt so I think that is a little bit of a bond we built," Hanigan added. "Nothing against the way these other guys are doing their job, they are doing a good job. I feel in a groove with him. I like catching him. I was really happy for him tonight. Quality start and we'll build from it," Hanigan said afterward.

Richards enters the second half of his season with a very solid 9-6 record and 3.53 ERA. He has a 3.72 FIP and a pedestrian 1.279 WHIP.

His numbers are marginally worse than they were a season ago, when he was one of the better pitchers in the AL until tearing his patella tendon in his knee in August and missing the end of the season. His 2.61 ERA and 1.038 WHIP from a season ago have worsened, and his strikeout rate has decreased from 8.8 K's per nine innings in 2014 to 7.0 this season.

That said, Richards remains a very solid pitcher and boasts an ERA better than every Red Sox starter not named Clay Buchholz.

Richards took a loss at the hands of Felix Hernandez and the Mariners in his final start before the All-Star break on July 9. The right-hander tossed 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on a whopping 12 hits while striking out three and walking one. The Angels wound up losing 7-2, as King Felix delivered an impressive performance of seven shutout innings for Seattle.

"Garrett's really been pitching well. He just had a tough time commanding counts and that led to not being able to put pitches together," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game.

Even including the loss, Scioscia was correct in praising the recent performance of Richards. Over his past six starts dating back to June 11, the 27-year-old has gone 4-2 and amassed a 2.66 ERA.

Red Sox vs. Richards (RHP)

Mike Napoli (13 plate appearances): .556 AVG/.692 OBP/1.333 SLG, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (11): .400/.455/.400, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Brock Holt (9): .125/.222/.250, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

David Ortiz (9): .375/.444/.500, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Xander Bogaerts (7): .200/.286/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Hanley Ramirez (6): .200/.333/.200

Mookie Betts (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 RBI

Alejandro De Aza (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 strikeout

Ryan Hanigan is 0-for-2 against Richards.

Shane Victorino is 0-for-1 with a strikeout against Richards.

No other Red Sox have faced Richards.

Angels vs. Porcello (RHP)

Erick Aybar (30 plate appearances): .200 AVG/.333 OBP/.240 SLG, 1 double, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Mike Trout (20): .333/.400/.500, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Matt Joyce (18): .250/.333/.500, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Albert Pujols (16): .313/.313/.625, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout

David Freese (11): .182/.182/.273, 1 double, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Johnny Giavotella (10): .222/.300/.333, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Chris Iannetta (9): .375/.444/.375, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Kole Calhoun (6): .500/.500/.500, 1 RBI. 1 strikeout

No other Angels have faced Porcello.