Milwaukee Brewers: What’s the plan for Drew Pomeranz?
How will the Milwaukee Brewers use Drew Pomeranz? Is he a high-leverage lefty or just another LOOGY?
The Milwaukee Brewers rode their bullpen to an NL Central crown last year. This year? Corey Knebel is out. Jeremy Jeffress is human. Josh Hader…is still amazing. And everyone else is inconsistent.
Drew Pomeranz was added at the trade deadline to add a power arm to a bullpen that could use a boost. Pomeranz has struggled over the past two seasons, but can the Brewers use him intelligently to leverage his abilities?
How many lefties do the Brewers have in the bullpen?
With Pomeranz in the fold, the Milwaukee Brewers will carry three lefties, but it’s not really an issue. Hader will always close if he’s available, so he doesn’t really count as a traditional lefty. Alex Claudio also exists, but he’s essentially a LOOGY. Claudio has made 57 appearances, but has only recorded 47 innings worth of outs this year. Don’t think of this as ‘three lefties’. It’s actually two lefties plus a closer.
Will Pomeranz ever start?
For the Milwaukee Brewers? In 2019? It could happen, but it would mean that another starter suffered an injury or was awful. It’s best to hope that Pomeranz isn’t pressed into a starting role for the rest of the 2019 campaign.
What do the numbers say about Pomeranz in 2019?
Pomeranz actually spent more time in the San Francisco Giants rotation than he did in their bullpen. Pomeranz made 17 starts and only four relief appearances for the Giants. In 77 2/3 innings in San Francisco, Pomeranz posted a 5.68 actual ERA, but his 4.44 xFIP indicates that he hasn’t been that bad.
Pomeranz has racked up 92 strikeouts this year, but he’s also allowed 36 walks and surrendered 17 homers.
The good news is that he’s averaging 92.1 MPH on his fastball with most of that coming as a starter. 92.1 MPH would be the highest Pomeranz has averaged in his career. He could also see a boost if he’s asked to ‘air it out’ for an inning instead of trying to make it through five or six.
How should the Brewers use Pomeranz?
For his career, Pomeranz owns a .332 wOBA against righties, and a .280 wOBA against lefties. He’s clearly much more comfortable in lefty / lefty match ups, and the Milwaukee Brewers should look to leverage that. If the Brewers are in a close game, and the opposition is expected to send more than one lefty to the plate in the seventh or eighth inning, Pomeranz needs to come in.
Given his platoon splits, Pomeranz shouldn’t work multiple innings. The longer Pomeranz stays on the mound the more likely he is to run into a string of right-handed hitters.
Pomeranz can serve as part of a bridge from the starter to Hader, but the Milwaukee Brewers need to be smart about how he’s used.
Pomeranz made his first appearance on Friday against the Chicago Cubs. He faced a pair of righties and a switch-hitter hitting from the right side. Ian Happ is awful against lefties, but Javier Baez and Willson Contreras have historically torched left-handed pitching. If the Milwaukee Brewers were in a tie game, or down by one or two, Pomeranz probably wouldn’t have worked the eighth inning with such a poor match up. He threw a 1-2-3 inning, and picked up a pair of strikeouts, but it wasn’t the ideal situation to put Pomeranz in. The Milwaukee Brewers will have to be smarter if they want to use Pomeranz in a close game.