Boston Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz is still without his first win for his new club. Yet, instead of poor play, his teammate Craig Kimbrel simply outshined him.
Since recently being traded from the San Diego Padres to the Red Sox for minor league prospect Anderson Espinoza, Pomeranz has been trying to prove why Boston wanted his services. Much of social media as well as baseball experts have debated if the trade was a good one for the Padres or the Red Sox.
Considering Pomeranz was made an All-Star this year, one would think that it would be a no-brainer; however, after posting a 0-2 record, a 6.20 ERA, and a .275 opposing batting average in four starts, Red Sox Nation is still awaiting the worth that he’s supposed to bring to Boston.
At 6-foot-6, the 27-year-old lefty native of Tennessee, on paper, is an imposing figure on the mound. The Red Sox brass must have been counting on it, as they decided to take on Pomeranz’s contract of $1.35 million for this year and possibly see him in arbitration for a great deal of more money next year. Pomeranz will not be a free agent until 2019, making it in his best interest to play his heart out for a new contract that will last the next couple of seasons.
Instead, weaknesses in the Pomeranz armor are starting to show after the last four battles.
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against the Seattle Mariners, Pomeranz went six innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits, six walks, and six strikeouts. He threw 105 pitches, but only 60 of them were for strikes. When he gave up three walks in the bottom of the fourth inning, including four straight balls to Dae-Ho Lee who is hitting .143 in his last 42 at-bats, Pomeranz looked to be in some major trouble. He got out of the inning, but then he gave up a first-pitch home run to Shawn O’Malley to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Ironically, Lee stung Pomeranz again, four batters later, as he hit a single to center to cash in another run to tie the game.
It’s worth noting that, along with the strikeouts, Pomeranz did induce eight groundballs to only two flyouts, demonstrating a strategy to keep the ball down in the strike zone. Except for O’Malley’s smash over the fence. Pomeranz had the honor of serving up his changeup for O’Malley’s first home run of the season, and it was only his second home run in his three-year MLB career.
In 17 starts for the Padres, Pomeranz allowed eight home runs and posted a 2.47 ERA, yet he’s already allowed five homers in his four starts for the Red Sox. CBSSports.com reported, “The 27-year-old lefty is in uncharted territory now, as he’s pitched 122.1 innings, his highest total since 2012. He’s done a great job staying healthy to this point, but it’s questionable how much gas Pomeranz has left in the tank after throwing just 88 innings last year, 115.1 the year before, and 112.2 the year before that.”
With all of that angst in mind, Pomeranz did have a quality start. It just wasn’t enough for the win. In fact, it was just enough for a no-decision.
Kimbrel stole the pitching show last night, not necessarily because he got the win but because of what he’s looked like since his return from knee surgery.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and the score still tied, Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t want a replay of a couple nights ago and pulled reliever Fernando Abad from the game when Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano stepped up to the plate. Kimbrel entered the game, throwing two knuckle curves that, apparently, looked much harder for Cano to hit than the homer that he drilled off of Abad. Cano put the second into the ground for the out, allowing Kimbrel to get the Red Sox out of the inning unscathed.
The 10th frame was all Kimbrel. He used only 12 pitches to strike out the side, using mainly a 98-mph fastball that looked like absolute fire coming out of his hand.
After Brock Holt singled to score the go-ahead run in the top of the eleventh inning, Brad Ziegler closed out the game for his 21st save of the season; however, it was hard not talking about Kimbrel’s performance, once the game was won.
The 28-year-old flamethrower from Alabama was put on the disabled list in early July for a left knee meniscus tear that was to sideline him for three to six weeks in surgical recovery. It looked bad, and made people think that Kimbrel wouldn’t even be throwing a ball for a full month. Well, someone forgot to tell Kimbrel that, pulling his best Marvel Comics’ Wolverine impression and healed faster than one could mourn his loss. Kimbrel was put in a rehab assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket on July 30th and was activated to the big club on August 1st.
In the 2.1 innings of work since his return, Kimbrel has blanked the opposition, allowing no runs or hits on a single walk and six strikeouts.
Pin-point accuracy and scorching velocity are a deadly combination. If anyone doubted Kimbrel’s worth to the Red Sox, especially after going down with an injury, he just flipped their switches and turned the electricity on to Kimbrel’s late-night show of success. Despite having a quality night of his own, all that Pomeranz did with his no-decision and six walks was create more questions about his worth to Red Sox Nation. The strength in Kimbrel’s knee helped his arm steal the show, while Pomeranz’s arm strength is now in question, if it wasn’t already.