In breakout year, Porcello has strong Cy case

Consistent Red Sox righty led MLB with 22 wins, among leaders in several categories

In breakout year, Porcello has strong Cy case

BOSTON -- In a year in which there's no runaway favorite for the American League's Cy Young Award, Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello's consistent excellence in a variety of categories might be enough to put him over the top in landing the trophy every pitcher covets.

The results will be announced Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network, and the field of candidates has been whittled down to three finalists -- Porcello, the Tigers' Justin Verlander and the Indians' Corey Kluber.

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In 2016, Porcello was pretty much lights-out while leading the Red Sox to the AL East title.

AL CY Young finalists announced

In 27 of Porcello's 33 starts, he allowed three earned runs or fewer. In nearly half of his starts -- 16 of them -- he permitted two earned runs or fewer. And on nine occasions, Porcello gave up one or zero earned runs.

Then there was the durability. Not only did the 27-year-old make every start, but he never went fewer than five innings. In fact, he lasted fewer than six innings a remarkable three times all year.

It was the best overall season by a Red Sox starter in years -- and perhaps impressive enough that Porcello can become Boston's first AL Cy Young Award winner since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez won his second straight in 2000.

The one thing most obvious to the Baseball Writers' Association of America's voting members who scrutinized Porcello's season was how slump-free he was in 2016.

In Porcello's worst start of the season, he still managed to last six innings while giving up five runs against the Orioles -- one of the top-hitting teams in the Majors.

AL Outstanding Pitcher: Porcello

Porcello led the Majors with 22 wins, the most by a Boston pitcher since Martinez's 23-4 masterpiece in 1999.

Check out various other portions of the leaderboard, and Porcello isn't hard to find. He was fifth in the AL in ERA (3.15), second in WHIP (1.01), fourth in innings (223), second in BB/9 (1.29) and first in the Majors with a 5.91 SO/BB ratio.

Verlander and Kluber have both won an AL Cy Young Award, so their performances in 2016 were hardly stunning.

For Porcello, this was the definition of a breakout year, and one that came on the heels of one of the toughest seasons of his career, when he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA.

Not only did Porcello make the market adjustment in his second season in Boston, but he made some key mechanical adjustments to fix his delivery.

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"I felt like my struggles in '15 were directly related to an inconsistent delivery, and that was what was causing me to miss locations and throw pitches in the middle of the plate," Porcello said recently. "First and foremost in the offseason, my main priority was to iron out my delivery again and get back to some of the little checkpoints I have."

When the pennant race heated up, so did Porcello. From June 28 through the end of the season, Porcello turned in 17 quality starts in his final 18 outings.

"I was fortunate to have a phenomenal team playing behind me and putting up the runs they were putting up," Porcello said. "I got on a roll and built my momentum, and it was just kind of that perfect storm that everything was really working out for me this year."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.