Drew Pomeranz has been given one too many chances and it is time to switch him out of the rotation
Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com: (May 7, 2018 – Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)
The Boston Red Sox started off their most important series with a loss, in large part due to the starting pitcher. In what is becoming an all too familiar theme, starter Drew Pomeranz gave up several early runs, struggled with his pitch count, and didn’t go deep into the game. Thursday’s outing was his eighth of the season, and seven of them have gone poorly. It’s time for a switch in the rotation, and time’s up for Drew Pomeranz.
Making the Switch: Time’s Up For Drew Pomeranz
Anyone who listens to the Red Sox Unfiltered Podcast knows the reason why Pomeranz has been given such a large leash. The lefty had a great 2017, posting a 3.32 ERA, 3.84 FIP, and striking out 174 batters in 173.2 innings. He was the second-best pitcher on a 93-win team.
Despite those strong numbers, Pomeranz actually struggled out of the gate in 2017. Pomeranz was outright bad the first month and a half of the season, posting a 5.29 ERA and a 4.78 FIP through seven starts. Pomeranz bounced back in 2017, so logically he deserved a shot to bounce back in 2018.
However, Pomeranz has officially run out of time to put it together. In an otherwise strong rotation, Pomeranz has been nothing but a liability. Pomeranz owns an ugly 6.81 ERA, 5.34 FIP, and is walking 5.1 batters per nine innings. While his FIP implies that Pomeranz is somewhat victimized by bad luck, he’s still been awful by just about every measure. There’s no point in sticking with him any longer.
There are Better Options
Part of the reason Pomeranz was allowed such a long leash in 2017 was that there weren’t any better options. At the time, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright were on the disabled list, and David Price was fighting through an elbow injury of his own. With the pitching depth injured, the Red Sox didn’t have any better options.
This year, they do. The starting pitching is remarkably healthy right now (knock on wood), and there are three players currently on the roster capable of taking the fifth spot in the rotation. These arms are currently in the bullpen, and could better utilized in the rotation.
Nobody knew how Steven Wright would look after not playing baseball for essentially a year and a half. However, Wright destroyed the doubters and has absolutely dominated out of the bullpen. The knuckleballer owns a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings of relief. Most recently, Wright pitched three shutout innings against the Astros, coming on right after Pomeranz allowed four runs in five innings.
Wright’s FIP is a little high at 4.06, but that’s not worth worrying about. As a knuckleballer, Wright doesn’t strike out that many batters, and relies on inducing weak contact. Because of this, FIP isn’t necessarily the best way to evaluate a pitcher like Wright.
Even if the Sox decide they’d prefer Wright in the bullpen, Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson are both available. Velazquez has been phenomenal all year long, whether he’s been pitching in the rotation or the bullpen. While Johnson’s name may strike fear into some, he’s actually proven to be a decent enough starter.
Unfiltered Thought on the Fifth Starter
Wright, Johnson, and Velazquez are all better pitchers than Drew Pomeranz right now. It looks as though Wright would be first in line to take a starting role, and he’s earned a chance to prove himself. The last time he was healthy was 2016 when he made the All-Star team. Let’s see if he can do that again.
Even if he can’t, Velazquez and Johnson have both stepped up to the plate when called upon. Velazquez has been dominant ever since his first major league appearance, and Johnson has been surprisingly effective as a major league starting pitcher.
The same cannot be said for 2018 Drew Pomeranz. Maybe he needs some time in the bullpen, or maybe he needs a trip to the DL. Either way, the Red Sox can no longer wait around for Pomeranz to figure it out. It’s time to make a switch.