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.