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Was Drew Pomeranz tipping pitches? Red Sox to check video

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Was Drew Pomeranz tipping pitches? Red Sox to check video

BOSTON — The velocity probably will only come with time, or maybe more rest. But the curveball could come overnight.

Twenty of the 81 pitches Drew Pomeranz threw in Friday night’s 4-3 Red Sox loss to the Rays were curves, per BrooksBaseball.net. There were seven swings and not one of them was a whiff. Remember, now, we’re talking about a pitcher who has made his living on his hook.

“Today I kind of struggled to make pitches all night,” Pomeranz said. “I made some good pitches. … It’s frustrating, but I’m out there battling, trying to make pitches. It’s just that my curveball wasn’t there tonight.”

Is it just that, though? The pitch may not have been as sharp as it can be, but the Rays may also have had a jump on it.

Manager Alex Cora hinted at the possibility after the game, and pitching coach Dana LeVangie confirmed the suspicion: the Sox think Pomeranz may have been tipping. They don’t know yet, and they’re going to go to the tape to check it out.

“That’s part of my gig, and I’m always going to look for that stuff and whoever takes,” LeVangie told NBC Sports Boston and the Herald. “Contact, squaring up fastballs, squaring up curveballs, you start to wonder.”

Said Cora: “It’s an adjustment, yeah, we’ll take a look at video and see if we can find something else more than health and mechanics.”

Health is the more obvious concern, although Pomeranz said he’s healthy. His fastball touched 92 mph on Friday, but he sat closer to 88. LeVangie thinks Pomeranz is still building up arm strength, and felt Pomeranz is progressing.

The Sox’ approach seems to be a belief that even without his best velocity, Pomeranz can be very good, as long as his full array of pitches is available — in particular, that curveball. Figuring out whether Pomeranz was indeed tipping, then, is an important part of a process of elimination. Because if the curveball is working well and he’s still not looking good, the Sox probably will have to consider whether Pomeranz could use more downtime. And one could argue, as well, that the only remedy for dipped velocity would be to build strength with reps, not to rest.

“You guys might not like what I’m going to say, but he continues to get better from the previous start,” LeVangie said. “The stuff was better. The stuff was crisper. There were some swings that we’re a little hesitant with what’s going on, because I didn’t think he pitched all that bad. For me, more importantly, he continues to make strides to get to the next level because he hit 92 mph, the ball played a bit better in the strike zone. There were some curious swings for me throughout the game that made me think about watching a little more video.”

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Eduardo Rodriguez hype is real, but one specific area of the southpaw's game needs improvement

Eduardo Rodriguez hype is real, but one specific area of the southpaw's game needs improvement

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Oftentimes, hype doesn’t translate into results. But there’s plenty of reason to believe the preseason hype surrounding Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez will.

Rodriguez has been the star of camp so far this spring. The hard-throwing southpaw has been working with ace Chris Sale on his slider, and it’s turned his live batting practice sessions into must-watch events.

"Eddie looks great, man,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Tuesday. "Eddie's working a slider now. He understands who he is a little more. The work he put in the offseason is paying off -- repeating his delivery. You ask any of those guys, and everybody was watching -- I think he's kind of like the favorite pitcher of the whole camp. When he throws live BPs everybody is out there watching.”

Cora also said at the beginning of camp that Rodriguez is “in the best shape of his life.” You hear that a lot about a number of players this time of year, but when you see E-Rod up close and personal, you’ll know it isn’t all talk.

Also raving about the 25-year-old is Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, who called Rodriguez’s live BP on Tuesday “one of the most impressive” he’s seen, and “beautiful to watch.”

⚾️ SPRING TRAINING 2019

The question with Rodriguez — once Boston’s top pitching prospect after being acquired from Baltimore — isn’t whether he has the “stuff” to be a frontline starter. His mid-90s fastball along with a changeup that bewilders left-handed batters speaks for itself. Combine those with a slider that looks to be improving this spring, and Rodriguez could be on track to set career highs in a handful of categories just as he did last season.

Where the problem lies for Rodriguez is his inability to consistently pitch deep into games. In 2018, he pitched six innings or more in only eight of his 23 starts. Not once did he pitch through the seventh. An ankle injury suffered in July likely played a factor during the second half of the season, but early exits have been an issue throughout the Venezuelan’s young career.

In fact, both Cora and Rodriguez acknowledged the lefty's struggles with early exits last June.

“I feel there’s more there,” Cora said after Rodriguez pitched 5 2/3 innings versus Baltimore. “There’s certain games we need our starters to go deeper, and today was one of them. He gave us what he gave, but I think the next step is for him to get through six, seven innings. And he can do that.”

“That’s not a really good feeling for a starting pitcher,” Rodriguez said after the start. “You just need to keep working. It’s going to come one day, but I’ve just got to keep working to try to get deep into games.”

⚾️ SPRING TRAINING 2019

There’s still plenty of untapped potential with Rodriguez. If what we’ve seen this spring is any indication of what’s to come, Red Sox fans are in for a treat. 

But as impressive he’s been during live BP, and as nasty as his reinvented slider has looked, Rodriguez needs to show it can not only be carried over to the regular season, but that it can be done for six or seven innings consistently.

If he can do that, look out. The hype exists for a reason.

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MLB Odds: Red Sox not even favored to win AL East as defending champs

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MLB Odds: Red Sox not even favored to win AL East as defending champs

The Boston Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, but oddsmakers aren't even picking them to win the American League East in 2019.

The New York Yankees are the current favorites to win the division on the MLB futures odds. The Yanks did make a few improvements to their roster over the offseason with the additions of starting pitcher James Paxton and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but the Red Sox have brought back a large majority of the 2018 roster that won a franchise-record 108 games and beat three 100-win opponents in the postseason.

Rounding out the rest of the division odds are the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, in that order. The Blue Jays aren't expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, but the potential arrival of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as a full-time major league player should be an exciting storyline to follow. 

The Orioles are destined for another last-place finish and are +8000 (!) to win the division. No other team in baseball has worse odds to win its division. 

Check out the latest odds for the 2019 AL East crown (via OddsShark):

New York Yankees: +100
Boston Red Sox: +120
Tampa Bay Rays: +900
Toronto Blue Jays: +1800
Baltimore Orioles: +8000

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