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Why Drew Pomeranz' start Tuesday is so important

Rob Bradford
July 21, 2018 - 10:39 am

It's dangerous to put too much stock into one start over the course of a Major League Baseball season. But Drew Pomeranz's outing in Baltimore Tuesday might present a unique situation.

Coming off a very encouraging 5 2/3-inning, one-hit, one-run outing for Triple-A Pawtucket, Pomeranz is finally being integrated back into the Red Sox' rotation for the second of a three-game set at Camden Yards. If he can continue the momentum of his last rehab outing, showing increased velocity and better command, the Sox' would breathe a huge sigh of relief.

As solid as Brian Johnson has been to date, the Red Sox could really use the type of top-of-the-rotation potential Eduardo Rodriguez left behind when injuring his right ankle. That's what Pomeranz can represent, as was evident with his 17-win season of a year ago.

"We were very happy with the way he pitched two days ago," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said prior to his team's 1-0 win over the Tigers in Detroit Friday night. "It’s not about the result. The line was great obviously. He was able to command his fastball. His breaking ball felt normal. He threw a bullpen today, he came in an told me, 'Hey man, I’m ready to go.' We’re going with him. We know the talent and what he did last year. Just for him to go out there and repeat his delivery, control his pitches and compete. We do feel he’s in that stage right now."

Cora added regarding Pomeranz, "He’s healthy, which is important. I think he cleaned up a few things mechanically. In the last one, he made some adjustments on the rubber. He feels he can compete with what he has right now. Velocity was OK, 88-91 (mph), but the difference is he was able to throw strikes. He was very efficient. I don’t know, I was watching and he was rolling, I was like, Yeah man this looks great. The way he went about it in the sixth inning, he still had the stuff, the fastball up in the zone and the breaking ball. He should be OK with that."

But if Pomeranz reverts back to the form of his previous eight starts this season (6.81 ERA, .311 batting average against), that will be a problem. So much so that the Red Sox might start prioritizing a starting pitcher prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

The need for a good Pomeranz is made even greater after hearing news that Steven Wright's comeback from knee soreness has taken a turn for the worse.

"It’s good timing," Cora said. "We needed him anyways. We need Steven Wright also, but I don’t know if the injury had to do with the way he went about it the last outing. I think he was going to be very aggressive anyways but he understands. He knows where we’re at. He knows that we need him. For him to feel that way, especially the way he went about it the last time, we’re in a good place. He’ll be OK."

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