Red Sox Drew Pomeranz Will Be Key To Playoff Rotation

If the Boston Red Sox are going to win their first round of the playoffs, starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz needs to have a similar performance to last night.

Pomeranz went five innings, allowing only one earned run on four hits, no walks, and four strikeouts against the Tampa Bay Rays. The only problem was that one of the hits was a home run by Mikie Mahtook, after serving him an 89-mph fastball down the middle of the plate for the first pitch.

Pomeranz threw 78 pitches, 51 for strikes, and induced five groundballs to four flyballs. Other than the solo shot, he was able to keep the ball low and limit any damage. The Rays went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

While the lefty from Tennessee won the game, it couldn’t bump his record to .500 yet. Pomeranz has gone 11-12 with a 3.35 ERA for the season. Since the trade from the San Diego Padres, Pomeranz has a 3-5 record with a 4.68 ERA for Boston. The win last night improved his totals to that mark, begging the question of if Pomeranz can be relied upon in the postseason to do the job right.

In 67.1 innings for the Red Sox, Pomeranz has allowed 14 home runs. His opposing batting average went from .184 in San Diego to .267 with Boston, even though he played 34.2 more innings for the Padres this year.

The fifth overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft made his first All-Star appearance this season, but rumors of an injury to his pitching arm and the possible coverup by the Padres before the trade continue to swirl around him. However, in an interview last Sunday with BoSox Injection, ESPN’s Buster Olney stated, “From what I understand, Pomeranz’s elbow feels a lot better than when he was getting the treatment earlier this year, before he was traded.”

It would stand to reason that if the player is on the mend, he should be playing even better than he did when the injury first happened. Yet, Pomeranz has gone 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in his last seven starts. Olney referred to the strategy that “after two times through the rotation,” Red Sox manager John Farrell would be “looking for the parachute.” In the game after the interview, Pomeranz was taken out after only 3.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits by the New York Yankees.

That parachute strategy worked better last night, with Joe Kelly relieving Pomeranz to start the sixth inning. In fact, five relievers were used to carry Pomeranz and the Red Sox to the victory.

That’s what the Red Sox need from Pomeranz: five solid innings before the red-hot bullpen can continue to work its magic. If Pomeranz can stay away from serving up home-run pitches, the Red Sox offense and bullpen should be able to pick up the playoff wins on his watch. If he can’t, the Red Sox may start to wonder if they need to make a switch with Pomeranz in the pen and a reliever to try a start. It worked for Clay Buchholz!

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