Posted on August 9, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Drew Pomeranz is about to have a new home in the Boston Red Sox bullpen. The Red Sox announced Thursday that Pomeranz would be moving to the bullpen for the foreseeable future. The move was made to accommodate the return of Chris Sale, who is expected to come off the DL this weekend.
“He understands,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pomeranz. “Like I told him, he’s still a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish either in the bullpen or back in the rotation. We’ll see. But we need this guy to be good and he knows it. He’s working hard to do that.”
With Sale coming back, the Red Sox had to take someone out of their rotation. It likely came down to Pomeranz or swingman Brian Johnson. Based on performance, there was little doubt it would end up being Pomeranz. In eight starts for the Red Sox this season, Johnson is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA, far better than his numbers pitching as a reliever. Despite uneven performances in his last two starts, Johnson was the clear winner over Pomeranz.
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Injuries have once again played a role in Pomeranz’s season. He began the season on the DL with a flexor strain in his forearm. Pomeranz went to the DL again in early June with biceps tendinitis, keeping him on the shelf for better than six weeks. In three starts since returning in late July, Pomeranz has allowed eight runs over 14.1 innings. On the season, he’s 1-5 with a 6.31 ERA in 11 starts. That’s not exactly how he saw his season playing out with free agency on the horizon this winter.
Of course, the Red Sox haven’t exactly given up on Pomeranz just yet. They know how good he can be when he’s healthy. The lefty is just one year removed from making 32 starts and going 17-6 with 3.32 ERA. The club is hopeful that he can stay healthy and recapture that form, potentially making him a viable candidate to start down the stretch or in the postseason.
“Drew Pomeranz is an important piece of this team,” said Cora. “Like I told him today, there’s been a few starts where the breaking ball is good and the fastball is not good. Last one, the fastball was good and the breaking ball wasn’t good. So hopefully we’re close.”
Boston’s bullpen isn’t exactly in need of an extra arm right now. The Red Sox are top-5 in the majors in bullpen ERA. However, one thing they are lacking is a lefty. Pomeranz could get opportunities to pitch against left-handed batters, as he looks for a role in the Red Sox bullpen. Of course, with such a big lead atop the AL East, it may be more important for the Red Sox to get him back on track.
Obviously, this is a great personal setback for Pomeranz. He hasn’t pitched in the bullpen since his days in Oakland in 2015. There’s also no guarantee he’ll get another chance in Boston’s rotation before the end of the season. However, Pomeranz will have a chance to contribute to a championship-caliber team down the stretch. If he can stay focused on being at his best, Pomeranz can put a rough season behind him and become an asset for the Red Sox moving forward.