Porcello zeros in on finding consistent control

Porcello zeros in on finding consistent control

HOUSTON -- Rick Porcello, now 3-9 this season with a 5.05 ERA coming off his 2016 American League Cy Young Award-winning season, said he knows what he needs to fix.

The Red Sox do as well and, as manager John Farrell explained, it's simple. But, after Porcello allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits in six innings to the Astros, he said he's struggled to incorporate the adjustments in recent outings.

"Mechanical stuff, working on it in between starts and everything's fine, just not enough carrying it out there and doing it for 110, 115 pitches," Porcello said after Boston's 7-1 loss on Saturday.

"To me, the very specific goal is to achieve being down in the bottom of the zone more consistently, then it opens it to be able to do more other things," Farrell said.

In Porcello's six innings on Saturday, he threw 101 pitches and 68 for strikes, with more than half in the upper half of the strike zone, according to Statcast™

Porcello has allowed five or more earned runs in his last three starts, 10 hits or more in four of his last six games and no fewer than five hits in any of his 15 starts.

"Yeah. Reviewed last night on video, then we had a chance to sit down and talk with him. There was some good conversation with him," Farrell said.

Added Farrell on Porcello's issues: "Specifically direct data about where his struggles come, particularly with pitch elevation in the strike zone. That's the common goal, which we're trying to achieve: more relentless location in the bottom of the strike zone. That's when he's most effective … It's not one pitch or the other. It's not a pitch type. It's the mid-thigh location that's getting him in trouble."

"I know what it is to fix, I'm just having a really hard time doing it," Porcello said. "When you're not sharp and when you're not on your game, this is what happens."

Before the fourth inning Saturday, Porcello had allowed six earned runs. In his final three innings, he allowed one run and had much more control, Farrell said, a recurring theme for Porcello's 15 starts this season.

"Last three innings, he was down in the strike zone -- not as much hard contact, ball on the ground, quicker out. He was a much more efficient pitcher, and yet, that's been elusive at the start of games."

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. He covered the Red Sox on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.