Rick Porcello won just two games in 11 starts while catcher Ryan Hanigan was sidelined with an injury. Both victories came over his first three outings in that span. The right-hander is winless since May 16.
Thus, it’s safe to say Porcello might benefit as much as anyone in the Boston Red Sox’s rotation from having Hanigan’s veteran presence back behind the plate. In fact, the 34-year-old catcher already is working with Porcello to correct some issues.
“I had a good conversation with him (Thursday). Saw a lot of video,” Hanigan told reporters in Toronto before Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. “I have some ideas about some things. I don’t want to get too much into it, but we talked (Thursday) quite a bit. We’re going to try a few things and see where we’re at.”
Porcello is in the midst of a brutal stretch with the Red Sox. He lasted just two innings Wednesday afternoon while allowing seven earned runs on seven hits, including three homers, in an 11-2 loss. The 26-year-old is 4-9 with a 6.08 ERA in 16 starts this season, calling into question Boston’s decision to give him a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension before he ever threw a pitch for the organization.
But Porcello did pitch better earlier this season — albeit in a small sample — in conjunction with Hanigan. The catcher pointed to Porcello’s one-run, two-hit, seven-inning effort April 29 against the Blue Jays as additional proof that the struggling hurler is capable of turning things around.
“He dominated the Blue Jays, so I went back to that game and we talked about some things and we’ll see. He’s just in a little funk right now,” Hanigan told reporters. “The numbers he’s shown tells you what he can do. I’m sure it’s mentally tough for him and that’s the biggest task. His stuff is there. Just trying to get into a groove and feel like he’s that dominating again.
“Hopefully I can help him go in that direction. He’s talked to the pitching coach and worked on making adjustments, so we’ll see where it goes.”
Porcello had success in his six seasons with the Detroit Tigers. He also had some struggles. But the current stretch is tumultuous for various reasons, including the big contract hanging over his head, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Hanigan’s return can trigger a step in the right direction.
“Guys go through funks all the time. It’s hard to go your entire career without going through a few bumps in the road,” Hanigan said. “At this point, it’s not [Porcello’s] stuff — but just trying to game plan a little different and execute.
“It’s always about execution. I think we have to try a few things and get things going in a better direction. Hopefully things bounce his way a few times.”
At the end of the day, it’s on Porcello to perform better. A catcher — even an experienced veteran like Hanigan — only can do so much. But given the magnitude of Porcello’s woes and his importance to Boston’s pitching staff, the Red Sox will welcome any additional help.
Maybe Hanigan will provide such.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images