Drew Pomeranz is nearing his return from the DL. He is going to make his second rehab start on Friday and before long, he’ll be back making a start every five days at the MLB level. That’s good because the Red Sox can always use rotational depth. Actually, any team can, but this is a Red Sox site (despite yesterday’s links) so who cares about those other teams? The key, though, is that getting more effective starting pitchers is different than just getting more starting pitchers. If all it took to make a good rotation was just a ton of arms, then being a GM would be very easy.
So with Pomeranz nearing his return to the big league club, its worth wondering just how good he will be. An obvious victim of bad-first-impression-itis, along with David Price, Pomeranz may still be considered by some in New England as a trade deadline acquisition who wasn’t worth the cost. Hopefully, that sentiment was erased last season when he went 17-6 with a 3.32 RA and 137 ERA+, while striking out roughly a batter per inning. But as he is coming back from an injury to his throwing arm and is a guy who had a 4.59 ERA in 68 2/3 innings during his first half season with the Sox, there is some trepidation about just which Pomeranz the Sox will be getting in 2018.
The signs pointing toward more of the better Pomeranz are as follows. Since he escaped Colorado, where he pitched from 2011 to 2013, Pomeranz has been a dominant hurler at best and an above average one at worst, at least in the large sample size zone of full seasons. He had a 159 ERA+ in 2014 with Oakland and that was followed by marks of 107+, 126+ and last year’s 137+. Of course, he has pitched in different roles during that time, but as a starter he is 38-38 with a 3.84 ERA in 571 2⁄3 career innings, and that includes some of those Colorado years. That’s not Kershawian but its more than fine for a team’s No. 3 starter. Pomeranz is also still in the prime of his career, as he is just 29-years-old, so bouncing back from injury shouldn’t be as big a problem as it would be if he were a 39-year-old still clinging to the dusty memories of the glory days.
But, there are reasons to be pessimistic as well. Pomeranz’s velocity has been on the decline the last few seasons, including a drop to 91.7 MPH on his fastball last year. Pomeranz has never been a fireballer, but he was throwing an average of 93.1 MPH with his fastball as recently as 2015. Dave Cameron, formerly of FanGraphs, looked into the decline toward the end of last season and although Pomeranz finished the season with a great line, if his arm, which has already been hurt, can’t get the velocity back into the 92-93 range, diminishing returns could follow. That becomes even more frightening when you take into account the fact that Pomeranz allowed hard contact on 32.5% of batted balls last season, which was the the second-highest mark of his career and worst since 2013.
Until we actually get to see Pomeranz pitch in a MLB setting, and are able to evaluate his velocity, control, effectiveness and pitch selection, we won’t know for sure which version of the southpaw we are getting. But if its the Pomeranz of the last nearly 200 innings or so with the Sox, then Boston will have yet another solid arm in the rotation.
Mookie Betts was incredible last night, going 4-for-4 with four RBI and five runs scored. (Scott Lauber; ESPN)
Part of the reason for the offensive eruption is that Betts, and the rest of the lineup, isn’t waiting around and letting strikes go by. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)
The now 9-1 Red Sox are firing on all cylinders right now. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)
What else did we learn from that 14-1 party? (Thomas Lott; Sporting News)
Oh, and as if things weren’t going well already, Dustin Pedroia is continuing to work toward his return. (Mark Chiarelli; MassLive)
Plus Xander Bogaerts is feeling pretty good. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)
But until the X-man is 100 percent, the Red Sox will need to deploy depth options. (Brett Cowett; BP Boston)