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Should the Astros pursue Drew Pomeranz?

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Am I really bringing up the discussion of the Astros, who had one of the best rotations of all time last year, looking at a pitcher who pitched with an ERA over 6 last year?

Well, maybe, If I’m the Astros, I know that we not only have a large gap in our rotation this year, but potentially losing Verlander, Cole, and McHugh next year means I need to focus on long term plans. The Astros will be coming up to the time where they will have some extremely large pay raises, and will have to look to budget-friendly high upside potential type of players.

Luckily, this is where Luhnow truly shines. He’s had large success in players who have had terrible pitch selection, high spin rates, generally high profile but struggling players and makes the most of what they are. So let’s explore if Pomeranz could be a potential fit.

Who is Drew Pomeranz?

Pomeranz entered the MLB at the early age of 22, which explains why it feels like he has been in baseball forever but just turned 30. Pomeranz who is a 6’6 Left handed pitcher weighing in at 240 lbs, was drafted fifth overall in the 2010 draft.

As always, I’m a big fan of John Sickel’s work, and here was a snippet from his Prospect Retrospective on Pomeranz:

”University of Mississippi ace Drew Pomeranz was drafted fifth overall last year, signing for a $2.65 million bonus in August, too late to pitch professionally. He has a very good fastball clocked in the 90-92 MPH range, sometimes up to 94-95. Even better is his breaking ball, a wicked-ass pitch that is utterly dominating on his best days. He’ll need to improve his little-used changeup, and he has the aptitude to do so. Pomeranz has the stuff of a Number Two starter, and just needs to sharpen his command, get some professional experience, and stay healthy. That may be harder than it sounds, of course, but power lefties are not easy to find. Grade B+.”

Pomeranz Arsenal

From Brooks baseball:

”His fourseam fastball has less armside movement than typical, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slightly below average velo. His curve has an exceptional bite, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ curves, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ curves and is slightly harder than usual. His sinker results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has less armside run than typical and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker. His cutter generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ cutters, has good “rise” and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ cutters. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups and has a lot of backspin. “

Baseball-Savant / Statcast

Pomeranz is listed as throwing 5 pitches:

Four Seamer - 39.8% / 89.5 MPH / 2,300 RPM

Curve - 39% / 78.1 MPH / 2,221 RPM

Sinker - 12.5% / 88.4 MPH / 2,236 RPM

Cutter - 6.8% / 85.6 MPH / 2,286 RPM

Change-up - 1.9% / 82.2 MPH / 1,826 RPM

Pomeranz had a down 2018, largely related to the loss in velocity on his four-seamer. Unfortunately, Pomeranz has struggled throughout the years to maintain his velocity deep into seasons, which changes his pitch usage. Fangraphs did an excellent article profiling his changes when he starts to lose a few ticks on his four-seamer. Of interest to me, they highlighted a few pitches of Pomeranz’s that are some of the worst in baseball. I know that doesn’t sound like a positive thing, but it actually works extremely well into the Astros strategy to adjust to allow pitchers to pitch to their strength.

MLB Performance

Looking back at Pomeranz career, there are the flashes of greatness and mediocrity. There have been times he has lived up to the hype of being the 5th overall pick, as a gigantic 6’6 Left Handed starter.

For his career he comes in with the following statline:

44-48, 710 IP, 3.92 ERA, 4.14 FIP and an ERA+ of 110.

That statline to me is slightly unfair, as it has his 22-24 year old seasons, which I believe were before he was ready, and inflated by the lovely Coors Field.

Since 2014, here are his totals:

40-34, 573 IP, 3.61 ERA, 3.99 FIP and an ERA+ of 117 with a 9.0 K/9

What It would Take:

MLBTradeRumors had this prediction :

”50. Drew Pomeranz – Royals. One year, $6MM. Pomeranz had a fine year in 2016, when he made the All-Star team and authored a 3.32 ERA in 30 starts for the Padres and Red Sox. After the trade, drama developed about the Padres’ disclosure of medical information. In 2017, Pomeranz overcame an early forearm flexor strain to make 32 starts for Boston, again posting a 3.32 ERA. A left forearm flexor strain again surfaced in March of this year, resulting in an April 20th season debut. Pomeranz was knocked around over an eight-start span before hitting the DL for biceps tendinitis. That sidelined him out for the better part of two months, and after he returned he spent most of his time in the bullpen. Pomeranz’s lost season could not have come at a worse time, but on the cusp of his 30th birthday, he’s an intriguing signing if he can stay healthy and recover some of his lost velocity. He’ll probably prioritize a clear path to innings in a big park over signing with a contender.”

Summary

Pomeranz is an intriguing candidate, definitely a low-risk type of signing. Although his projected salary coming in at $6 Million may be a bit high for my taste. You have to wonder if there is an injury or other underlying cause to his velocity drop. Luckily, the Astros would be able to perform a full physical if they did have interest, something we obviously do not have to weigh into this decision.

There are 2 intriguing aspects to this signing, one of which is that Pomeranz generally has a strong start to the season velocity wise. This could align well with the need for pitching and timing of Whitley being ready to break into the MLB (and past the Super-2 deadline).

The other item of note is that Pomeranz has had experience, and actually great success in the bullpen. His career ERA from the bullpen is exactly 3.00. For the same price as Tony Sipp costed us per year, with less years to gamble on, he seems like he could fill a different hole in the worst case scenario with a potentially really large upside given his pitch usage. Converting him back into a reliever, should provide an uptick to his velocity and potentially return him to the form he was if he is unable to do so as a starter.

I’m not sold on Pomeranz, but he would definitely be an interesting project to pursue. Based on the information we have, I’d lean against signing him as a Starter but he’d be intriguing in the bullpen. The obvious counter against signing him is that we also do have a strong farm system stocked and ready to supply some prospects who could perform similar to Pomeranz in the long run.

Let me know your thoughts - would you want to sign him?

Poll

Would you want to sign Pomeranz

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Yes
    (171 votes)
  • 25%
    No
    (102 votes)
  • 31%
    Meh
    (127 votes)
400 votes total Vote Now