On Friday night, Drew Pomeranz is scheduled to make his second start of the season. In his return to the rotation last Friday, he did some things well and somethings not so well. He struck out seven batters in only 3 2⁄3 innings against the Oakland A’s, but the fact that he didn’t even make it out of the fourth inning shows that he didn’t have his best stuff.
He should certainly be forgiven for the rocky start since it was his first outing of the year after starting the year on the DL. Supporting his cause is the fact that his FIP for the game was 1.01 and Oakland’s batting average on balls in play against him was .500. Obviously Pomeranz wasn’t great, but he wasn’t as bad as his current 7.36 ERA would indicate. So what does he need to do in start No. 2 to improve?
According to FanGraphs, Pomeranz was throwing his fastball in the high 80s, roughly around 88 mph, which is quite the drop for him. Although he is certainly not a fireballer, Pomeranz averaged about 91.3 mph on his heater last season, while throwing the pitch 55 percent of the time. Pomeranz’s cutter was also slower last Friday, landing in the mid 80s compared to a roughly 87 mph average from a year ago.
As his arm builds up strength following his injury, Pomeranz should be able to get more power behind his pitches and that will go a long way in helping his effectiveness.
One game is not enough to evaluate how a pitcher is going to spread his offerings out for an extended period, but Pomeranz did throw his curveball a bit less than usual against the A’s, sending it in on 26.1% of his pitches. Last season he threw it 37 percent of the time, making it far and away his second favorite pitch and his most valuable one. Working a few more curves into the repertoire should make a difference.
This may seem like an obvious one, but making sure to get balls in the zone is something Pomeranz needs to improve on from his season debut. He had a zone percentage of 47.7 against the A’s, although he did throw 73.7 percent first pitch strikes.
Of course, as his BABIP from this game illustrates, Pomeranz got unlucky plenty of times. While he did leave a few balls in hittable locations, leaving some pitches up against righties, he was able to put the ball in lower portions of the zone as well.
But the A’s just hit some of the tougher pitches he threw, making contact on 83.3 percent of pitches that they swung at outside of the zone. That’s not going to happen every time Pomeranz steps on the mound. If he can avoid the mistake pitches and keep hitting his spots more consistently, things should go better.
What we’ve learned is Pomeranz has a few very fixable issues that he needs to deal with, while some other problems should work themselves out. He’ll get a chance to do his part once again tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays.
J.D. Martinez did what he was destined to do last night: hit critical home runs. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)
Nomar is back!. Well. Kind of. (MassLive; Christopher Smith)
Xander Bogaerts is actually going to be back tonight. (Ian Browne; MLB.com)
But Brock Holt may be put on the shelf, so its not all good news on the injury front. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)
The young guys, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, are not hitting well right now. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)