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Pomeranz is Boston’s Dark Horse

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Drew Pomeranz is the Boston Red Sox’s Dark Horse

If Chris Sale is the Boston Red Sox’s ticket-to-ride, Drew Pomeranz is their dark horse bringing up the rear. Including the clinic he put on Saturday night, the 28-year-old has now matched a career-high in wins with 11 (David Price has 5, but I digress). 

In a single season, Pomeranz has gone from an indefensible underperformer to a guy pitching like a solid 2-starter behind Chris Sale. No one could have predicted this.

With a WAR of 2.5, Drew Pomeranz is the reason that the Red Sox are not currently neck and neck with the Yankees in the AL East. It may sound like homer hyperbole, but I assure you it is not. Let’s face it: Chris Sale cannot be the only successful starter this team has.

The Boston Red Sox Sox possess a team ERA of 3.71, which is the 3rd best in all of baseball. After his most recent win, Pomeranz has a well below the mean ERA of 3.36. Remove him from the equation, and this pitching staff is immensely thinner.

But, there is a hook.

No, literally there’s a hook: Pomeranz has a  screwballer’s approach to dissecting the strike-zone. In his most effective season to date, 30% of Drew’s pitches have been his uncopyrighted knuckle-curve. A kid who has plus fastball location and low to mid 90’s velocity, has thrown 30% curveballs.

This visibly betrays just how deceptive a pitch his hook is to opposing hitters. Although it generates whiffs innumerable, his approach to pitching has its downfalls. He’s not exactly attacking the strike-zone here.

In order for Pomeranz to be as potent an arm as he has been in 2017, he has to conservatively dance around batters. This careful choreography makes him an inefficient pitcher, in terms of pitch-count. He’s working with polka-dot sized room for error. He really has to surgically locate this killer hook to stay effectual, namely after his first time through the opposing order. This is something he has done consistently in 2017, and we’re now seeing the product of such precision.

Disputably, Pomeranz has a secret-ingredient here akin to Mariano Rivera‘s cutter. And where do these pitcher’s with specialty pitches truly belong? In the bullpen.

A Reliever In The Making

What amplifies the appeal of Drew Pomeranz is his flexibility. He’s more than willing to pitch in any capacity, be it starting or coming out of the bullpen. If done coherently, John Farrell could leverage this chess-piece as an Andrew Miller type all-purpose reliever.

We saw Pomeranz in this prototypical role, last year against Cleveland in the ALDS. In the 2 games where he had an opportunity to work out of the bullpen, he didn’t exactly perform at the zenith of his ability. He posted a 4.91 ERA in 3 ⅔ innings pitched (but he did have 7 K’s). It’s the pliability and the willingness to conform to the role that the Red Sox need him in, that makes this kid so valuable. With more experience, Pomeranz could surely harness his latent relieving talent. The stuff is so glaringly there.

He’s having a career year as a starter, but if every cog was turning for this rotation, Pomeranz would be better suited coming out of the pen. He could consume innings manifold, and provide needed recovery time for the other bullpen arms. To give him ample adjustment time, he should make the move before October.

Whenever David Price is ready to return, Farrell could comfortably dispatch Pomeranz to the pen. This would allow him to capitalize on the momentum he has already generated as a starter. Regardless of how he’s used, the evolution of Drew Pomeranz is something to behold here in Boston. He’s a suppressed secret-weapon that can no longer be ignored.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Do Not Need To Get A Big Bat

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Many have stated their wishes that the Boston Red Sox will go out and get a big-time bat for the heart of their order. A bat that they seemingly need to help protect the likes of Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez in the lineup. One of the bigger names connected to the team is Giancarlo Stanton, but reports show that idea as a longshot with Stanton not looking at Boston as a possibility.

Another name, Jose Abreu, is also reportedly out of the running with Ken Rosenthal reporting that the White Sox will not trade their slugger before the start of the season. With the potential list shortening with JD Martinez and Eric Hosmer leading the running, maybe Boston should sit still this offseason.

That is sort of a controversial take, but the notion of Hosmer or Martinez doesn’t get the juices flowing, and ultimately will cost the Red Sox more then they are worth.

So what is the answer, Boston still needs a first basemen for next season. A position that could be filled with Sam Travis and Hanley Ramirez given the idea that Dustin Pedroia will find some time at the DH spot next season with Eduardo Nunez getting some quality time at second base. Another possibility is Rafael Devers not panning out at third base and needing to move to first base or DH at times.

Also in the cards is prospect Michael Chavis who should find himself in AAA Pawtucket at some point next season and maybe in Boston at third base or first. Then comes the possibility of Blake Swihart or my favorite, Bryce Brentz. Both were getting trained at first base with Pawtucket last season and could see reps at first base if Dave Dombrowski opts to not sign a big-time bat.

Of course, these solutions are not as flashy and will not present an immediate threat for Boston in the heart of their order. But betting on the current roster to bounce back at the plate and see an emergence of another young player might be a route to take.

Worse case scenario they get the same amount of production and end up right around 90 wins like they were this past season. But the upside of keeping the financial flexibility going forward while trying out prospects might be the best thing for Boston to do instead of overreacting to fan pressure.

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Bottom Line: Boston Red Sox Need Stanton

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Boston Red Sox Team President Dave Dombrowski isn’t a great talent evaluator. Throughout his entire career, he has built his success by acquiring proven big league talent. Betting on that changing anytime soon is foolish, so why not make another move for proven talent?

Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has long been rumored to be on the trade block and Boston is just one of his potential destinations. Reports have stated thought that Stanton would prefer a trade to a team like the Dodgers despite “advisers” pushing for Boston.

The Stanton vs Judge potential is enough to get any baseball fans heart racing. But should Boston present Miami a god offer? Some have balked at the potential of trading any more prospects but let me tell you a very well known secret, Boston’s farm system has been pillaged. Jay Groome and Michael Chavis are considered the best two prospects remaining under Dombrowski.

So any thought of depleting the farm system anymore should be tossed out the window as there isn’t much left there, to begin with. On top of that, the current makeup of the team and the organization is winning now, a strategy that is far from working given the current talent in the lineup. Last season the Red Sox lacked true pop in their lineup after the retirement of David Ortiz. Many at the time sold it as the 2015 Royals who nickeled and dimed their way to a world series title. But when it came down to it the 2017 Boston Red Sox lacked balls.

Boston needs a power bat in the heart of their order. Not just for the home runs from that player, but for the protection they would offer the other hitters in the lineup. If you were a pitcher facing the Red Sox last season almost every hitter in the lineup could be pitched too. The only exception might be Hanley Ramirez, but the BIG HR simply was set up to fail to have to step in for Ortiz with no protection around him.

Stanton would instantly bring in pop, lineup protection, and the much needed “it” factor that will help drive fans to the team. Without this type of move, it is hard to see how next season will be any different.

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Minimum Expectations for the 2018 Red Sox

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Last year, it was Chris Sale; in 2016, the exorbitantly expensive David Price was all the hype. Both of these roundly heralded saviors produced the same underwhelming results. Another short-winded trip to the playoffs; another bummer of a year.

The Red Sox simply cannot afford a third consecutive first-round exit, in the 2018 postseason. And it seems that Dave Dombrowski knows this. In an attempt to prevent car-flipping anarchy in the streets, he fired the overseer of all this recent failure (his direct subordinate) – John Farrell.

Now the Sox will be heading into next season with a newfangled remedy. No, it’s not a hundred-million dollar player. This time around, management has received the upgrade. It’s the newly hired manager, Alex Cora, who will be charged with the burden of resurrecting one of the most venerated franchises in professional sports.

On Monday, Cora was formally introduced to Boston as the new manager (or scapegoat).

Good luck, buddy! You’re gonna need it.  

Should Boston fans really expect an appreciable change to be affected by just one man? After all, this is exactly what we’ve done, to no avail, for the past few years. And if Cora really represents the end-all-be-all solution, what is a realistic accomplishment for him, and his club, in the first season of his tenure?

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