August 31, 2017
Drew Pomeranz In Three Phases
Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz has had a three-phase season. He was very bad, then better (but still not good, and certainly not efficient), and for the last two-and-a-half months he’s been very, very good. There are really no mysteries about when the phase changes occurred, so let me start by showing you the raw, results-oriented numbers Pomeranz has put up in each phase.
Drew Pomeranz, 2017 Season
Of course, those look like awfully selective endpoints. You might also note that Pomeranz has seen his strikeout rate decline and his walk rate rise during the latter, otherwise-most-successful phase, and if you do you might suspect that this is a trick or that this piece is about Pomeranz being at least somewhat lucky over his recent hot streak. Neither of those things are true. Pomeranz has genuinely turned a corner this year, twice. He’s genuinely morphed, since the early spring, from a struggling and half-injured starter into a true ace, or something close to it. Here’s the full story.
Infamously, Pomeranz was battling nagging elbow soreness when the Red Sox traded for him last summer. Over the winter, he had a stem cell injection in that elbow designed to ameliorate that problem, but it lingered a little bit into the spring. Worse, he added a new problem to the mix in March, when he found his delivery out of whack—he said he was trying to keep his arm lower, and that was resulting in it dragging a bit as he rotated toward the plate—and developed a balky triceps. Between the two injury problems—neither of which turned out to be major, but each of which clearly affected him mentally and physically—Pomeranz lost touch with his natural delivery early in the season.
He lacked fluidity. He continued to leave his arm behind a bit, causing a lot of misses to the arm side, and (because he has a relatively high arm slot; that’s why he could feel when his arm was riding a bit low) getting the ball up. He gave up seven of the 15 total home runs he’s allowed this season during the six starts of Phase One. He moved into Phase Two on May 14, when he took a pretty dramatic step—from the first-base to the third-base side of the rubber. That really began the process of freeing Pomeranz. His closed stride and leaning sort of delivery no longer carried him offline; they now carried him neatly into a direct path toward his target.