There were many people laughing roughly a month ago when the Brewers made their significant add at the deadline in Drew Pomeranz, trading away a highly thought of prospect in a barren system in Mauricio Dubon to the Giants. If you looked at Pomeranz’s numbers with the Giants, this wouldn’t have seemed like a crazy reaction. Coming off an injury-riddled and rather unimpressive stint with the Red Sox, his bounce-back attempt with the Giants had failed miserably, as he put up a 5.68 ERA and 5.24 FIP in 77 2⁄3 innings. He was far from his very impressive peak that we once saw.
Right before Pomeranz was traded to the Brewers, he was sent to the bullpen, where he made four appearances in relief before the changing of uniforms. Those four appearances (5 1⁄3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) were enough to get some contending teams interested in his services. Along with small sample of results, the jump in fastball velocity was drawing some attention.
Those four successful relief appearances with the Giants led to Pomeranz landing with a considerable role in a contender’s bullpen. His success has maintained, as in 15 1⁄3 innings with the Brewers, he’s put up a 2.35 ERA and 3.02 FIP, striking out a whopping 42.4 percent of the batters he’s faced. Among 289 pitchers with at least 50 batters faced since the beginning of August, Pomeranz’s xwOBA against ranks 10th. The only pitchers with more batters faced than him with a lower xwOBA in that time are Justin Verlander, Jack Flaherty, and Gerrit Cole.
The main pitch that’s driving the success for Pomeranz is his four-seamer. With the velocity increase, it has been absolutely fantastic. With above-average velocity and plus-spin coming out of the bullpen currently, it has gone from a low-90’s heater that got destroyed, to sitting around the 93-94 range with plus-results, and more recently has averaged 95.2 miles per hour in the month of September, a time in which hitters are 0 for 7 against it with five strikeouts.
The jump his fastball has received out of the bullpen has allowed him to ‘let it fly’ with that offering. Among 346 pitchers with at least 10 innings since the beginning of the month of August, only five have thrown four-seamers at a higher rate than Pomeranz: Colin Poche, Emmanuel Clase, Chad Green, Josh Hader, and Liam Hendriks.
The move to the bullpen has allowed Pomeranz to attack hitters with a strong majority of fastballs and ditch other pitchers in his repertoire as a starter that were deemed to be useless (cutter, sinker). Like it’s always been, his main secondary pitch is his curveball, but moving to the bullpen has allowed him to be more selective with it. So out of every few fastballs, he’ll drop in a pitch that ranks nine percent above league-average in vertical movement with a 13 mile per hour differential compared to his fastball.
A longer sample size for Pomeranz as reliever remains to be seen and he is already 30 years old. But this success couldn’t be coming at a better time for him, as he’ll once again reach free agency this offseason. If he continues to perform this well throughout the final few weeks of the season, then he could be looking towards a decent contract from a contending team coming his way, something that seemed extremely unlikely a couple of moths ago.