Blue Jays: Drew Pomeranz Opens Series Against Marcus Stroman

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up a second inning home run to Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up a second inning home run to Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

On Tuesday, August 5, the Blue Jays will open a three game series against the Boston Red Sox. The Blue Jays will send Marcus Stroman to the hill while the Sox will counter with Drew Pomeranz.

Drew Pomeranz has made just ten starts for the Red Sox this season. Most recently, he started on July 31 against the Philedelphia Phillies. The lefty had been sidelined since May 31 with biceps tendinitis before this start.

Before his injury, the southpaw was mired in a terrible cold streak. In three consecutive starts he failed to reach the fifth inning. As well, in his fourth start—in which he was injured—he lasted just five innings, allowing four earned runs.

One of the issues that the left-hander has experienced this year is power off of the right-handed bats. While he has allowed just a few more hits against righties (RHB AVG: .306 and LHB AVG .290), many more of these hits have been for extra bases. In fact, lefties have hit for a poor .387 SLG, while righties have hit for an insane .561 SLG. In terms of ISO, this is the difference between a below average .097 ISO and a monstrous .252 ISO.

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The biggest culprit for these odd splits has been the home run ball. Righties have managed nine home runs against the hurler—while lefties have never taken one out of the ballpark. While there is a fairly large discrepancy in terms of at-bats against lefty and righty hitters, right-handed batters would have hit one or two home runs in the same amount of at-bats.

Overall, against both lefty and righty hitters, the 29-year-old has had his fair share of struggles this season. The Red Sox hurler has managed a 6.56 ERA, 5.69 FIP, 1.800 WHIP, and 68 ERA+ in ten starts this season. Overall, he has been worth a worse-than-replaceable -0.2 fWAR.

Through his struggles, Pomeranz has stayed consistent in his pitching repertoire. He has mixed between a four seam fastball, curveball, sinker, cutter, and change-up. However, despite offering five different pitch variations, he will primarily alternate between his four seam fastball and curveball.

The big lefty has fired home four seam fastballs 37.95% of the time this season. The heater is not that fast, posting an average velocity of 89.55 mph. The pitch has not surrendered many hits, though, allowing a small .211 BAA. Although, as batting average can be misleading, the pitch has also allowed a terrible .479 SLGA and .268 ISOA.

Boston’s starter has broken off hooks 37.29% of the time this season. The curve maintains crazy dropping movement, with a relatively quick average speed of 77.89 mph. Despite the pitch’s great movement, it has produced whiffs on just 16.56% of swings and has been responsible for only 12 punch outs. Furthermore, the curve has allowed a lot of hits, giving up a .407 BAA.

Pomeranz has used his sinker 13.86% of the time this season. The sinking-fastball has not done its job well this year, producing ground balls on just 20% of balls in play. As well, much like the heater, while it has not given up much of an BAA—holding a paltry .200—it has been hit incredibly hard, to the tune of a .500 SLGA.

The left-hander completes his pitching repertoire with occasional cutters and change-ups. The cut-fastball and change have been used 8.36% and 2.53% of the time, respectively. While the cutter has been pretty good this year—allowing a .250 BAA and .333 SLGA—the change has been demolished, coughing up a .500 BAA and 1.500 SLGA.

While the Red Sox don’t seem to need any more good news after sweeping the Yankees in four games, their left-handed starter should come back around soon. So far he has pitched to a crazy .348 BABIP and 15.3% HR/FB rate. With BABIP regression, he should have an ERA closer to 5.69. Also, with HR/FB regression, he should drop his ERA even further—back around 5.27 (xFIP). This positive regression will likely come in the form of a “hot streak”.

While he is poised for some positive regression in his some of his numbers, other numbers have simply been terrible this season. Through ten starts he has struck out batters at a 19.6% clip and 8.29 K/9. These numbers are not terrible, but they are worse when compared to his walk numbers. This year he has coughed up a terrible 12.3% BB-rate and 5.21 BB/9.

The Blue Jays have had a mixture of good and bad experience against the Tennessee native. Luke Maile, Justin Smoak, and Teoscar Hernandez have all done well in the past. Particularly, Maile has four hits in eight trips to the plate—including a double and home run. However, all of Yangervis Solarte, Curtis Granderson, Brandon Drury, and Devon Travis have taken the collar against the 29-year-old.

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The Blue Jays should look to start the Boston series on a positive note. Pomeranz is due for some positive regression, but Toronto will look to take advantage of his still recovering body. Furthermore, Marcus Stroman will look to defeat the Red Sox—a team that has caused him trouble this year.