Drew Pomeranz has struggled to get deep into games this season, but he started to change that Wednesday.
Coming into the contest against the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox left-hander only had pitched into the seventh inning three times this season, and only had completed seven innings once.
Pomeranz’s main struggles have come from his inefficient pitch count as he ranks fifth in Major League Baseball in pitches per inning and ranks second in pitches per at-bat.
The Red Sox need Pomeranz to be able to get deeper into games to ease a bullpen that has been heavily taxed in recent weeks.
On Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium, the lefty did just that. He allowed two runs on six hits while striking out five in 6 1/3 innings. Pomeranz only threw 93 pitches and was pulled after giving up two singles in the seventh inning.
All in all, it was a quality outing for Pomeranz, who has found success when he has been able to record a quick first inning, pound the strike zone and mix his pitches effectively.
He did two of those things Wednesday against the Royals. Pomeranz recorded a 1-2-3 first inning on 16 pitches. Those 16 pitches were the second most of any inning in his outing, as he threw 20 pitches during the fourth inning. Pomeranz also was able to pound the strike zone, as 60 percent of his pitches went for strikes in six of the seven innings that he took the mound.
Where Pomeranz must continue to get better is mixing his pitches. During a small stretch this year, the lefty featured his cutter more prominently and it led to noticeable success.
But of the 93 pitches he threw Wednesday, only eight were cutters, according to Brooks Baseball. The left-hander threw 51 four-seam fastballs and 33 curveballs as he reverted back to the two-pitch pitcher the Red Sox saw early in the season.
But Pomeranz’s efficiency and strike-throwing Wednesday shows he’s inching closer to returning to his All-Star form from 2016, and if he can incorporate his entire repertoire, the Red Sox’s rotation becomes much more formidable.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox vs. Royals.
— Boston’s bullpen surrendered a two-run lead to the Royals in the eighth inning Wednesday when Matt Barnes and Robby Scott walked the bases loaded. John Farrell elected not to go to closer Craig Kimbrel and Scott ended up surrendering a go-ahead grand slam to Salvador Perez.
Farrell had right-hander Heath Hembree warming in the bullpen but elected to stick with the left-hander Scott.
“His power numbers have come against right-handed pitching by a two or three-to-one margin, the number of home runs hit,” Farrell said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “.230 hitter against left-handers. Didn’t happen today.”
As for not using Kimbrel, the Red Sox manager didn’t want to use his closer for more than one inning.
“Given the workload that he went through, what he was feeling coming out of those three particular appearances, that wasn’t something that we looked to entertain,” Farrell said.
— The Red Sox signed their 2017 first-round pick Tanner Houck and assigned him to Single-A Lowell, the club announced Wednesday.
— Matt Barnes now has walked six batters in his last four games. Prior to that he hadn’t walked a batter in his last 14 games.
— Joe Kelly has 11 walks and seven strikeouts against left-handed hitters this season.
— Andrew Benintendi’s home run Wednesday was the longest batted ball of his career. The home run traveled an estimated 454 feet.
— Hanley Ramirez was out of the lineup again Wednesday, and Farrell believes his sore shoulder has been affecting his ability to hit the ball.
“To me, getting Hanley back to the level he performed at last year would be like a midseason trade,” Farrell said, per ESPN’s Scott Lauber. “He was a dominant middle-of-the-order force for us last year, and we need more production.”
Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images
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