Photo Credit: AP Photo / Charles Krupa
Flashback to July 14th and the news breaks that the Boston Red Sox have found their starting rotation boost: Drew Pomeranz
The Boston Media was entirely skeptical. They did not like giving up top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza for him. They did not like that he never went over the 180 inning threshold. They did not like that he was a pitcher who bounced back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation for most of his career. He was having a phenomenal year with the Padres in 2016. He was 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA over 17 starts for the dismal San Diego Padres. He had a 10.1 K/9 and gave up less than a home run per start. He was everything the Red Sox needed down the stretch.
Then the wheels came off for Big Smooth.
He started 13 games with 14 appearances and went 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA after being traded to the Red Sox. The strikeouts were still there, but he gave up 1.8 home runs per 9 innings, and some people started to see a trend. He was pretty much one home run an outing Drew Pomeranz, and looked nothing like the guy they were supposed to get from the Padres.
It came to light that the Padres had withheld medical information on two players that were dealt, and the Red Sox were given the opportunity of a do over. Dombrowski could have either reversed the trade or worked out a new one.
He did neither and the media was not happy.
Pomeranz ended up pitching out of the bullpen in the short playoff appearance in 2016.
Coming into 2017, fans were just hoping for an average showing. The media were calling the trade an overpay. Spring Training came around and Pomeranz lost velocity on his fastball.
It was reported he was heading to the disabled list to begin the season with a left forearm injury. This just looked like it was going to be a disaster and the Red Sox were going to get no value out of trading their prized pitching prospect in Andrew Espinoza.
Pomeranz came back early in April. It didn’t go so well for him, however, as he pitched to a 4.15 ERA in April. He was giving up what seemed like a home run per game again. He looked like second half of 2016 Pomeranz, not the brilliant pitcher who has a great curveball and is absolutely stunning if he mixes in his cutter. May came around, and things got worse. Pomeranz found a stretch of games where he couldn’t go 5 innings.
I don’t think anyone expected what happened next.
Pomeranz had it out with John Farrell in a game on May 20th against the Athletics. He was pulled before the 5th inning after throwing 97 pitches. After that day, Pomeranz became the what everyone wanted when the trade happened. He stopped giving up homers every game. He didn’t lose a game in July and August. He ended the year with 17 wins (same as Chris Sale, Zack Greinke), a 3.32 ERA (13th in MLB) and was able to start in the post season.
Pomeranz was a huge boost last year, and they need him to be the pitcher he was after May 20th of 2017. He had a 2.86 ERA after May 20th. When Chris Sale fell off, Pomeranz was still there doing his thing (even if he had a small drop off in September).
— Red Sox (@RedSox) July 20, 2017
A lot of pressure is on Drew Pomeranz, and most people don’t realize it.
There are question marks in this rotation. Will David Price be effective and healthy this year? Will Chris Sale disappear in August and September again? When is Eduardo Rodriguez going to come back? Are we going to get Cy Young Rick Porcello or are we going to get the Rick Porcello from 2017? Can Steven Wright find consistency after his injuries that most knuckleball pitchers don’t have?
There might not be much consistency in this rotation heading into 2018. The Red Sox need Pomeranz to be the guy they traded for. They need him to be a strong force behind Chris Sale and David Price (if healthy). They need the consistency that he brought last year every time he went to the mound.
When Pomeranz was on the mound, there were people waiting for it to fall apart like it did in 2016. It never did. Drew Pomeranz needs to find that 2017 groove early, and stay there all season to help this pitching staff as best he can.