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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Support system in place

By MIKE SHALIN
June 22. 2018 12:48AM




More support for Rick Porcello — and the Red Sox got out of Minneapolis with a victory.

Two years ago, when Porcello won the Cy Young Award, he was backed by 6.67 runs per game, the highest total of any major league starter.

Last year, the numbers dipped, and so did Porcello.

Now, the numbers — 5.84 runs per game — are back and Porcello is 9-3.

The right-hander is 48-6 in 68 starts in a Red Sox uniform when getting three-plus runs of support, the Red Sox 56-12 in those games. He is an astonishing 3-33 in games with fewer than three runs behind him.

He and the bats came through Thursday at Minny, producing the 50th win of the season and leaving the Red Sox two games (four losses) behind the Yankees in the division.

The Sox, Yankees and Astros were all at 50 wins, the first time in major league history a league has had three teams with 50 Ws this early, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Change coming Drew Pomeranz looks like he’ll be back sooner than later, and while manager Alex Cora won’t say how this will affect his pitching staff, you have to think he’s headed for the bullpen.

In short, who among the five in the rotation deserves to be bumped? “We have to see where he’s at first and then we’ll make decisions,” Cora said. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I know Steven (Wright) has thrown the ball well. Drew was struggling early and then he found it for a little bit. ... When we comes back, then we’ll make a decision. But as of now, the most important thing is for him to be healthy.”

Pomeranz has been rather awful so far this season, but also started slowly in 2017 and went on to win 17 games.

As far as the bullpen, MassLive’s Chris Smith offers, via Twitter: “Red Sox should add setup men at trade deadline. Relievers’ stats vs. Yankees, Astros and Mariners: Joe Kelly 6.75 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 6.2 IP. Matt Barnes: 7.71 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7 IP. Heath Hembree:12.71 ERA, 2.47 WHIP, 5.2 IP.

And what’s going on with Dustin Pedroia? His situation seems to have been reduced to trying to get him back SOMEWHERE along the line.

“Like I said before, it was a major surgery,” Cora said in Minneapolis. “We didn’t know what to expect, so we are where we are now. We’re hoping that, yeah, he’ll be back. When? We don’t know. But I still believe he’s going to contribute this season and he’s going to help us to win.”

I know he’s still on his honeymoon, and he is winning, but Cora made the wrong move by bringing Robby Scott, just back from the minors, into a 2-2 game in the eighth inning. It always amazes me when a guy isn’t good enough to be in the major leagues one day and in a 2-2 game in the eighth inning the next.

Brady saga

On and on it goes. When will Tom Brady retire? Did he cost the Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo? It’s starting to sound like a drone.

Former teammate Willie McGinest chimed in this week.

“I think there will be a walk-off if he wins this year, a Super Bowl.” McGinest said on an NFL Media podcast. “I think it won’t be 45 years old, I think he will walk off and say, ‘The game has been amazing to me and now I am going to figure something else out.’” For what it’s worth, Brady wrote “cuarenta y cinco” on Instagram this week. Translation: 45.

And as far as the 2018 season, veteran receiver Eric Decker says he wants to catch Brady’s passes, even though there doesn’t appear to be interest from the Patriots.

“I think the Patriots would be a good fit and being drafted by Josh McDaniels in Denver,” Decker said on Sirius XM. “I talked with New England last year during the free agency process in June. That is always an option that I would definitely love to entertain.”

He added: “I took a few visits and talked to some teams. At this point in my career, I want to go somewhere where I can compete for a Super Bowl and be in a good system and be with a quarterback that my skill set would be an addition to the team.”

Gronk? You didn’t think we’d have Pats notes without the big fella, and Monday Morning Quarterback’s Albert Breer, appearing on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, said, “I don’t think they were shopping Gronk to the entire league, but there were some teams they trust that I know that they talked to. Detroit (Matt Patricia, GM Bob Quinn), Tennessee (Mike Vrabel), Houston (Bill O’Brien), San Francisco (John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo) — you guys can make the connections there.”

Top picks

With the NBA draft taking place Thursday night (we will deal with the Celtics’ night here Sunday), Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press ranked the top players taken at each number in the first round. The Celtics were all over the lot.

Bill Russell was rated as the best No. 2 selection, while Larry Bird was No. 6, Robert Parish No. 8, Paul Pierce No 10, Rajon Rondo No. 21 and Reggie Lewis No. 22. In addition, future Celtics Don Nelson (17), Tiny Archibald (19) and Dennis Johnson (29) were also rated as the tops in their slots.

Bruins talk

The Bruins hit draft weekend amid chatter they’re shopping both David Krejci and David Backes (and their big money) while showing interest in free agents John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk.

“Yeah, that would be interesting ... you never want to speculate,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “You can’t get too far ahead ... he’s a top-six guy, he can play left and right wing, he’s a big body. He’d be a nice addition. I am sure any team would say that right now. He’s going to make your team better, and I think that’s what you always look at as a coach, and fitting (talented players) in is the easy part. The tough part is getting those types of players.”

Krejci has three years left at $7.25 million per year, while Backes also has three years remaining, at $6 million per.

Tavares is clearly the No. 1 free agent out there, and it will be interesting to see if he decides to stay with the Islanders with Lou Lamoriello now running the show in Brooklyn and Cup champion Barry Trotz taking over behind the bench after agreeing to a deal Thursday.

One of the teams set to chase Tavares is San Jose, which had a wild few hours earlier this week. The Sharks acquired Mike Hoffman, who was caught in a soap opera involving significant others in Ottawa, because the Senators reportedly did not want to trade Hoffman within their division. So they traded Hoffman to the Sharks, who in turn flipped him to Florida, which is in the Sens’ division.

Thursday, Senators GM Pierre Doiron said, “Trading Mike Hoffman was something we needed to do. Our dressing room was broken. We have to have a dressing room that wants to win together.”

The transactions freed the Sharks of money that allows them to go after Tavares. They will have company.

Listening to NHL Radio Wednesday, I heard host Patrick O’Sullivan suggest they change the name of the Selke to the Bergeron Trophy when No. 37 retires. Then, Patrice Bergeron was the third-place finisher for the two-way award, which would have been his fifth in seven years.

In short, you simply can’t be a better forward in your own zone than Bergeron.

This and that

Our buddy Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram on Twitter: “If a ballpark (for the Pawtucket Red Sox) is built in Worcester, preliminary plans have it being a state-of-the art park in terms of fan-friendly technology; among the best in the game, period.” … Cubs starting pitchers have allowed one or zero runs in seven straight home games for the first time since May 11-June 7, 1919 (seven games), according to STATS Inc. … Dwight Howard is free to pursue his fourth team in four years thanks to a buyout from the Nets, who acquired him from Charlotte. Howard still puts up numbers, but is a dinosaur because he’s a big man with no outside game — AND he is said to be a pain in the locker room. Don’t look now, but Jon Lester is 9-2 with a 2.10 ERA. USAToday’s Bob Nightengale tweeted, “Jon Lester may be the Chicago Cubs greatest free-agent signing since Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He has transformed the culture, won a World Series, reached three straight NLCS appearances, and continues to dominate with seven shutout innings today against the Dodgers.” … Per the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Red Sox are 3-11 since April 21 when not hitting a homer.

From colleague J.P. Morosi: “Red Sox interested in upgrading bullpen, but in order to acquire San Diego LHP Brad Hand, source says the Padres’ likely asking price would be a young everyday player, such as Rafael Devers. @MLBNetwork @MLB.” … Brandon Drury, who had 37 doubles for the Diamondbacks last season (68 the past two), remains frustrated in Triple-A for the Yankees after the quick blossoming of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. … The Red Sox are 1-20 when trailing after seven innings — not a good sign. … Giants closer Scott Strickland joined the ranks of the goofy this week when, involved as part of the beanball war with the Marlins, broke his hand punching a door after being lifted from the game and having words with Miami’s Lewis Brinson. … This from STATS: Brandon Nimmo hits a leadoff inside-the-park home run, the third in @Mets history. The others: Angel Pagan off Pedro Martinez in 2009 and Charlie Neal off Art Mahaffey in 1963. … Finally, the Bruins will see the Caps raise their Cup banner in the Oct. 3 opener and visit Buffalo the next night before an Oct. 8 Monday matinee against Ottawa opens the home slate and a three-game homestand.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


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