Don't fall for Porcello's hot streak

July 30, 2019 10:35 PM

Rick Porcello’s run support has been ridiculous.

The Red Sox have won Porcello's last four outings, heading into his scheduled start vs. Tampa Bay Wednesday night at Fenway Park. That’s created an illusion of a “hot” pitcher for bettors who only focus on team results with each starter. But his ERA in those outings is an awful 7.54. Porcello allowed six home runs to New York, Baltimore, Toronto, and Detroit (three bad teams in the four). 

Why did Boston win those starts? The offense scored 19, 17, 10, and 10 runs. And in the Sox last failure with Porcello starting, they scored 13 runs in London. That’s 69 runs in five games, an average of 13.8.

Coincidentally, the Sox have a won-lost record of 13-8 in Porcello’s 21 starts this season. That’s a better winning percentage (.619) than the team currently enjoys overall. 

So, is Boston “a good bet” with Porcello because of that 13-8 record? Or a lousy bet because of poor recent form and a full-season ERA of 5.55?

Sharps focus on skill sets rather than trends. Porcello’s fly-ball tendencies aren’t well-suited to throwing an aerodynamically friendly baseball in a high-scoring season. He’s probably going to continue allowing big blasts and a lot of runs. It’s extremely unlikely that the Sox will keep scoring double digits every time he takes the hill. 

Maybe he’ll get things figured out and post an ERA the rest of the season closer to his career norms. Wait for evidence that is happening before assuming it will happen.  

Maybe the offense is going to sustain juggernaut level production for a while longer, offering daily value against market money lines that lag the development. Not likely in terms of extremes, but this is a loaded lineup. 

The best expectation is that Porcello will be a “bet-against” pitcher the rest of the season in Las Vegas and other legal jurisdictions. He’s throwing for a team that’s priced daily at championship caliber. He’s not in good form. His approach is poorly suited to baseball’s current evolutionary tick. 

For Red Sox fans who wouldn’t ever want to “fade” their team for emotional reasons, betting “Over” game totals might make more sense. Markets have trailed developments in Porcello’s starts. His 21 outings have gone 14-7 to the Over, including those last five slugfests. 

In any betting sport, gamblers should try to determine of moneylines or point spreads are accurately capturing player skill sets and game conditions.

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