Red Sox

Drellich: Pomeranz is most underappreciated member of 2017 Red Sox

Drellich: Pomeranz is most underappreciated member of 2017 Red Sox

BOSTON — Yes, people have started to recognize and realize that Drew Pomeranz has had a very strong season. That he’s excelled at a time when the Red Sox really need him. 

First, there were injuries to Eduardo Rodriguez, and next, to David Price. Nearly every time out, Pomeranz looks reliable. With strikeout stuff to boot.

But the lefty still has to be the title-holder. He’s the most under appreciated member of the 2017 Red Sox.

Who else could it be? Tzu-Wei Lin might have gotten more public praise during his cup of coffee in the big leagues than Pomeranz.

The 3.39 ERA Pomeranz carries after Saturday’s 10-5 win over the Yankees is coincidentally the same mark Price had in his final 28 starts of last season, and Price was a huge piece once mid-May passed last year. 

Going into Saturday’s 6 2/3 innings of three-run ball, Pomeranz had some really impressive statistical company inside of this season, as well.

Andrew Benintendi’s two home runs in a huge game at Yankee Stadium stole the show Saturday, rightfully. But Pomeranz’s excellence has been steady.

He started the day at 2.4 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs' calculation. That placed him 29th in the majors among starters. The 30th ranked pitcher was Jose Quintana, the lefty whom the White Sox moved to the Cubs in a big July trade. Quintana had 2.3 WAR. 

The 28th best pitcher, also at 2.4 WAR, was Justin Verlander. 

At No. 26, with 2.5 WAR, was Jon Lester.

Wins above replacement is just one measurement of performance. Pomeranz isn’t exactly Lester, no. 

But Big Smooth, as Pomeranz has been nicknamed, has made himself into the team’s No. 2 starter. His health, and the training staff and doctors that helped him get healthy, deserve a lot of credit.

So too does Pomeranz’s cutter, which is getting whiffs on 36 percent of swings, per's numbers entering Saturday. That’s 10 percentage points better than last year, the season Pomeranz introduced that cutter. His changeup’s also faring very well.

"I think it's different [compared to San Deigo],” Pomeranz told reporters at Yankee Stadium Saturday. “I feel better. I was one-dimensional at times when I was over there. I had a good curveball and a good glove-side fastball. Now I think I've developed a lot of things to help me win games and help me make pitches against these guys.”

Pomeranz has a higher groundball rate than both Rick Porcello and Chris Sale. Pomeranz has also done a good job stranding runners.

“The one thing that Drew has done, he’s kept us in a lot of ballgames because he’s found a way to navigate when there’s been men on base,” Sox manager John Farrell said Saturday.

A little luck can be involved there. But there’s no luck when it comes to a strikeout rate above 9 per nine innings.

So give it up for Pomeranz — and for the Red Sox front office that traded for him with an eye on what he could do for the team in the future, not just in 2016. They traded for an All-Star, and they got one this year.

Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

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Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

0:21 - With less than two week before the beginning of the 2018 season, the Red Sox don’t have all of the answers for their rotation. Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich project their Opening Day rotation and discuss the lack of depth in it.

4:39 - Will Boston’s version of the ‘Killer B’s’ return in full force this season? Lou and Evan analyze the performances of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

10:07 - Buy or sell? John Farrell will find another managerial position this season; J.D. Martinez will have a better season than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; Dave Dombrowski has put the best possible team out there for 2018.