Chris Sale has been the undeniable ace of the 2017 Boston Red Sox. However, the emergence of Drew Pomeranz has allowed the rotation to flourish.
It has almost been a year since the Boston Red Sox acquired Drew Pomeranz from the San Diego Padres. The move was, and still is, heavily scrutinized by many Sox fans. Anderson Espinoza, a highly touted prospect, was sent over in the deal, leaving many fans disappointed.
The move to Boston has certainly had its challenges for Pomeranz. For one, he was no longer starting games in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Rather, he was starting in hitter-friendly Fenway Park against some of the most potent lineups in all of baseball. A new city, new fan base and high expectations are enough to overwhelm a young player – and the city of Boston has done just that.
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In a calendar year with the Red Sox, Pomeranz has posted a 4.12 ERA. He struggled mightily in his introduction to the Red Sox rotation – ultimately leading to a demotion to the bullpen, late last season. During this time, Pomeranz showed flashes of his potential, leaving many fans excited for the following season.
To begin the 2017 season, Pomeranz had a 4.97 ERA and had only made it through the 5th inning in four of eight starts. In addition to the disappointing numbers, he had a heated exchange with John Farrell following an outing in Oakland.
The exchange with Farrell, though controversial, is marked as a turning point for Pomeranz. Since then, Drew is 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA and has more than doubled his season strikeout total.
Earlier in the season, Drew acknowledged Chris Sale’s success coming from utilizing his different pitches. Recently, he’s been instituting a similar approach in his pitching.
"“I’ve been basically throwing four pitches for strikes,” Pomeranz said. “I don’t throw my changeup much. But when I do, it’s where I want to. My cutter, basically I’ve been able to throw everything to both sides of the plate now. For now. Hopefully, I keep doing that. I think it disrupts their timing a little bit more.” – Drew Pomeranz – via Christopher Smith of MassLive"
Throughout his career, Pomeranz has relied heavily on his curveball – often throwing it more than 50 percent of the time during his outings. This season, he has best utilized his curve by establishing his fastball. A tactic he has never used before.
"I’ll throw high fastballs and throw curveballs off it. It’s hard for them to distinguish what’s what. The arm speed is key. It can come in looking like a fastball, and they make up their mind, but then it drops down. – Drew Pomeranz – via Rob Friedman"
The introduction of a cutter, in addition to a low 90’s fastball and excellent curveball, has once again provided Pomeranz with a dominant repertoire. And he, like Sale, will continue to utilize his arsenal to dominate the opposition.
Quietly, Pomeranz has acted as a secondary ace, posting a 3.60 ERA at the break. Rick Porcello has struggled, David Price has been injured, and the combination of Doug Fister / Hector Velazquez / Brian Johnson has been solid in the absence of Eduardo Rodriguez.
Trailing only Sale (2.75 ERA) and Rodriguez (3.54 ERA), and Sale in wins (11), Pomeranz has proved to be a solid pick-up for the Red Sox.
One of Dombrowski’s most scrutinized trades is looking more, and more, like a win for the Red Sox.
Sox fans may continue to criticize Pomeranz, as he doesn’t always pass the eye-test, but in this case – the numbers don’t lie. Expect Pomeranz to fuel the Red Sox to a postseason berth and, hopefully, an appearance in October.