Red Sox not concerned with Drew Pomeranz’s innings

Jul 2, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (13) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 2, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (13) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox claim that they have no concerns about recently acquired pitcher Drew Pomeranz entering uncharted territory with his workload.

The Boston Red Sox caught many of their fans by surprise with a bold move to acquire left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz from the San Diego Padres. The Fenway Faithful had been clamoring for weeks for the front office to find another pitcher to solidify this rotation, yet when they pulled off a trade for an All-Star starter the move was met with skepticism.

Those unfamiliar with Pomeranz questioned what the Red Sox were getting in return for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. The price was too steep. If they had to surrender a prospect with Espinoza’s ceiling, it should have been for a surefire ace, not a pitcher that has managed to string together a few good months for the first time in his career.

Fear not, Red Sox Nation. Pomeranz is having a stellar season, owning a 2.47 ERA and 10.1 K/9 rate through 17 starts with the Padres, which earned him a spot on the NL roster for the Midsummer Classic in front of his home crowd in San Diego this week. Yes, he’s played almost half his starts in a pitchers paradise at Petco Park, but his numbers on the road have actually been even better than at home.

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This has clearly been a career year for the 27-year old, but Pomeranz didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Dave Dombrowski revealed during Thursday night’s press conference to announce the deal that he has been enamored with Pomeranz’s potential since the Cleveland Indians selected him with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 draft. He has been traded three previous times and bounced between the rotation and bullpen on numerous occasions, potentially stunting his development, but he earned a rotation spot with the Padres in spring training and has thrived ever since.

The big lefty has a devastating curveball and has developed a cutter this season that many credit as a significant factor in his success this season. He’s a power pitcher that punches out batters at an elite level, fitting the profile that Dombrowski craves.

As for Espinoza, he was a hefty price to pay, but what other options did the Red Sox have? They desperately needed another starter in a limited trade market. According to Dombrowski, any team that was a viable trade partner was also asking for Espinoza, even those offering pitchers that would merely be a rental. The Red Sox have Pomeranz under control until 2019 as he enters the prime of his career.

Meanwhile, the 18-year old Espinoza is years away from contributing, while the Red Sox are in a position to win now. It’s also extremely difficult to project young pitching prospects that have never played above low-A ball. Espinoza has great stuff, but top pitching prospects are far more likely to flame out or have their careers derailed by arm injuries than position players are. Maybe Espinoza becomes a star some day, but Pomeranz is already a solid pitcher that can help now and over the next few years. It’s a risk, but in this case a necessary one.

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One of the few red flags with Pomeranz that actually has some validity is his workload. He has already set a major league career high with 102 innings. He has pitched as many as 140 innings in a season split between the minors and big leagues, but that was back in 2012. The Red Sox needed another pitcher to send out to the mound in a postseason series and they ended up getting a guy that may not even be able to still pitch by October.

Despite the innings pace that will send him well into uncharted territory, the Red Sox aren’t concerned with Pomeranz’s workload and don’t intend to put an innings cap on him that would end his season early.

"“This is also someone who’s 27 years old, he’s physically developed so we’re not pitching with a young pitcher in his early 20’s,” manager John Farrell told MassLive’s Jen McCaffrey.“Looking back at his game log, he’s been a six, seven-inning type of pitcher. The pitch counts, I think have been very well kept in check so, like we do with every pitcher, we’ll monitor this start-to-start as we go. I don’t foresee this as a hard cap to the number to be thrown.”"

Fatigue could play a factor as we get deeper into the season, but the Red Sox can still be cautious with how he’s used to ensure he doesn’t run out of gas. He won’t make his debut with the team until Wednesday, giving him some time to get acclimated to his new team before taking the mound. Aside from the inning he tossed in the All-Star Game, Pomeranz hasn’t pitched since July 7, so he’ll essentially have almost two weeks off between starts.

There are clearly some warning signs to be cautious of with Pomeranz, but most of them are a bit overblown and the Red Sox don’t seem to be concerned. He was an All-Star this season for a reason, so give the guy a chance to prove he can do it here in Boston before we bemoan the price we paid for him or complain that he’s not the elite arm we hoped for. Chris Sale or Jose Fernandez weren’t walking through that door and the only other available options were rentals that would put the Red Sox back in the same spot this winter.

Next: Looking ahead at the second half

Pomeranz probably won’t put up the same type of numbers at Fenway that he has in the NL West this season, but he’s an upgrade over the revolving door of pitchers the Red Sox were using at the back end of the rotation. If nothing else, at least he’s not Clay Buchholz.

That alone should be enough to get Red Sox fans to rejoice.