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Three things that stood out about Rick Porcello’s Cy Young season

Rick Porcello pitched a complete game against the Orioles on Sept. 19.Patrick Semansky/AP

Rick Porcello’s season wasn’t about individual moments, but rather the startling start-to-start consistency that he maintained throughout 2016. The Red Sox lost two straight starts that he made only once all year. He made 33 starts and walked more than two guys exactly once. He pitched at least five innings every time he took the mound — something no other Red Sox starter had done in a season of at least 33 starts since at least 1913. He had 30 starts of at least six innings, most by a Red Sox since Derek Lowe in 2002.

That was enough to earn the 27-year-old the AL Cy Young Award.


It can be hard to break down a season into individual moments, especially in baseball where patience and understanding of nuance are helpful toward a full appreciation of the game. But certainly there are some events that proved more meaningful than others. So with that, here are a few outings that stood out more than the rest:

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

1. April 9, April 15, April 20: Porcello started the season with three straight wins: an 8-4 win at Toronto, a 5-3 win at home against the Blue Jays, and a 7-3 run at home against Tampa Bay. His line scores weren’t great — 4.66 ERA — but he had so much conviction about what he was doing. He was building on his willingness at the end of 2015 to attack the strike zone — 24 strikeouts, 3 walks, 19 1/3 innings — while daring opponents to hit his two-seamer and mixing it judiciously with a four-seam fastball at the top of the strike zone. He threw roughly five two-seamers for every four-seamer in that stretch, establishing a foundation for who he intended to be in 2016.

2. July 29: He improved to 14-2 with a 6-2, complete game win on the road against the LA Angels. He threw 81 of his 107 pitches for strikes. That’s 75.7 percent. The win snapped a four-game losing streak at a time when the Red Sox were starting a stretch that sent them on the road for 41 of their final 63 games. Porcello didn’t allow anyone past first base over the last seven innings. If looking for evidence that Porcello excelled in the games when the Red Sox most needed him to do so, this probably qualifies as Exhibit A.


3. Sept. 19: He gave the Red Sox a 5-2 victory in Baltimore that pushed his record to 21-4. The Orioles still had a chance to make the AL East interesting if they could beat the Red Sox at Camden. Instead, Porcello proved surgical with a five-pitch mix in a ridiculous 89-pitch complete game win, his second of the season. He was in total command with as complete an arsenal as you’ll see a pitcher feature on a given day.

That gave the Red Sox comfort not only of his mastery of the strike zone but also of the competitive stage. He made that clear when he drummed Manny Machado in the bottom of the fourth inning — after retiring 11 straight to start the game — and engaged him in some heated words while dispatching him to first base.

The game was perhaps the most complete window into both Porcello’s fantastic execution this year and also his tremendously competitive nature. It was also a pivotal one in that it set in motion the process of the Sox separating themselves in the division. It also represented the zenith — and conclusion — of his run of dominance, 11 straight starts of at least seven innings, no more than three runs allowed, and no more than two walks permitted.


Rachel G. Bowers of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Follow Alex Speier on Twitter @alexspeier.