Drew Pomeranz makes his regular season debut with the Giants tonight, and he’ll be doing it against a Dodgers team that dominated Zack Greinke and Zach Godley and the rest of the Diamondbacks pitching staff this past weekend.
Pomeranz had a nice spring — 15:7 strikeouts to walks and a 2.81 ERA in 16 IP — in his quest to rebound from an absolutely wretched 2018 with the Red Sox. It was so bad — 6.08 ERA / 5.43 FIP in 74 innings — that the Red Sox left him off of the ALDS and ALCS rosters but brought him back for the World Series against the Dodgers (he did not make an appearance).
His season was greatly affected by left biceps tendinitis, a sure warning sign for someone who needs to be able to throw a baseball effectively 100+ times every five days. If he’s healthy now, the Giants might’ve grabbed themselves a bargain. Well, it’s a bargain in the sense that he agreed to this deal:
Pomeranz with #SFGiants: One year, $1.5M. Plus: $250K each for 25ip; 50ip $125K each for 2gs; 4gs; 6gs; 8gs $100K each for 10gs; 14gs; 16gs; 18gs; 20gs; 24gs; 27gs; 30gs $200K for 32gs Plus: $500K if on OD active roster $250K each for 90, 120 days on active roster: $500K for 150.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2019
I think that means... uhh... let’s say, um... if he starts 24 games and gets to about 160 innings and 28 starts. That’s... uh... geez, these are a lot of conditions. That’s about $3.7-$4 million. That’s a low dollar value ceiling and a really nice gamble by both player and team.
Pomeranz turned 30 in November and is just a season removed from a 3.32 ERA / 3.84 FIP split in the AL East. He pitched 173.2 innings in 2017 and posted a strikeouts per 9 of 9.0 in 32 starts. He was a little walk heavy — 3.6 per 9 (3.9 per 9 for his career) — but wound up the 27th-most valuable pitcher that year at 2.9 fWAR.
He’ll be facing a Dodgers lineup that’s still not as good against left-handed pitching as it is against righties. Last year, their OPS split between righties and lefties was .796 / .733, and through four games it’s 1.141 / .756. Love the microsplits, but look — even with the addition of A.J. Pollock and after hitting 14 home in four games, they’re still not as strong.
That said, here’s Dave Roberts’ lefty-mashing lineup:
2B - Enrique Hernandez
3B - Justin Turner
SS - Corey Seager
CF - A.J. Pollock
1B - David Freese
RF - Cody Bellinger
LF - Chris Taylor
C - Austin Barnes
SP - Julio Urias
The only hitters in this lineup with hits against Pomeranz are Hernandez and Freese with a total of three. That’s in 36 plate appearances, and features 0-fers from Justin Turner and A.J. Pollock. So, hey, something to look forward to.
Julio Urias hasn’t started a game since 2017, but he’s still just 22 years old.
Meanwhile, the Giants will try their level best to win a game scoring just one or two runs.
CF - Duggar
1B - Belt
3B - Longoria
C - Posey
SS - Crawford
LF - Joe
RF - Parra
2B - Panik
SP - Pomeranz
This has to be about trusting your gut. Gerardo Parra has not been great against left-handed starters in his career (.299 OBP in 1,115 plate appearances) , but Bruce Bochy seems to believe that he’s having better at bats at this point than Michael Reed. I’d tend to agree, even if I think it defeats the purpose of having him on the roster. On the other hand, it’s probably less sinister than the veteran-rookie brain lock we’ve seen from Bochy over the years: Urias has a career reverse platoon split. And it’s comically extreme:
In 107 PAs, lefties have a line of .287 / .406 / .460 (.865 OPS). Righties are .261 / .330 / .345 (.676) in 344 PA. Still a smallish sample there that could explain the variance, but Brandon Belt did do this off of him back in the first half of 2016.
Ah, the first half of 2016. When baseball was fun.