When Rick Porcello discusses his Game 4 start Tuesday night in the Bronx as the stuff of dreams, don’t interpret it as mere October hyperbole.
Porcello is a local guy — born in Morristown, New Jersey, he attended Seton Hall Prep in nearby West Orange — and even though he grew up rooting for the Mets, he has an appreciation for what baseball means in this borough at this time of year.
“I couldn’t think of a better spot to be in as a big leaguer getting the opportunity to have the ball for Game 4 in Yankee Stadium,” Porcello said Monday as the Yankees’ ALDS against Porcello’s Red Sox shifted cities. “That’s what it’s all about.”
It’s been a funky stretch for Porcello, who hasn’t had a full start in more than two weeks and hasn’t thrown more than 90 pitches in a month. The 6-5 righthander started the regular-season finale but went only two innings (40 pitches) as a tuneup. He pitched again Friday, a three-batter appearance in the eighth inning of Game 1, hours after a bullpen session. That caused Alex Cora to push his start back from Game 3.
Cora wasn’t worried about the scheduling twists and turns taking a toll on Porcello.
“We decided to give him one more day,” he said. “The way he goes about his business and how fiery he is and how he prepares. I’ve seen firsthand that this guy gets it. So I’m very confident that regardless of what happens [Monday], we have the right guy on the mound.”
Porcello finished September with a 4.28 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He fared well against the Yankees (2.31 ERA in four starts) but has struggled at the Stadium (5.56 ERA in seven starts). He said having been through this starting/relieving storm that is the playoffs helps this time around.
In 2011, as a 22-year-old with the Tigers, he pitched in four games over 12 days in the ALDS and ALCS, alternating between the rotation and bullpen.
“That helped me a little bit with my preparation and just understanding different mindsets as a starter to come out of the pen,” Porcello said. “Just seeing what transpires, especially in a short series in five games, each game is essential. If you have the lead that night, you’ve got to do whatever you can to win, and if that means starting pitchers pitching, that’s what it means.”
Rick Porcello’s career numbers vs. the Yankees:
IP 141 2/3
At Yankee Stadium:
IP 43 2/3