The move hardly comes as a surprise by measure of Pomeranz’ merit. After all, the lefty has walked more batters than he’s struck out in three starts since returning from his second stint on the disabled list already this season. On the whole, the 29-year-old has averaged fewer than five innings in his 11 starts on the season while pitching to an eye-popping 6.31 ERA (5.96 FIP). He currently owns a 1-5 record, and although that’s not the greatest measure of a pitcher’s talent, he also allowed at least four earned runs in four of those five losses.
The move will make room for the return of Chris Sale to the rotation when he ultimately returns from the DL this weekend, leaving Rick Porcello, David Price, Brian Johnson and the recently-acquired Nate Eovaldi to round out Boston’s starting five. Though Pomeranz certainly won’t intimidate many hitters coming out of bullpen if he continues to pitch the way he has, it’s interesting to point out that he’ll become the lone left-handed reliever that Sox have on hand. Though his overall 2018 performance has been thoroughly disastrous, a quick look at his splits show that Pomeranz has actually done a reasonable job at getting out opposing left-handed hitters. They own just a 3.61 FIP against him in a limited sample.
Of course, there’s not much in the way of a silver lining for Pomeranz himself. The timing of his struggles couldn’t be worse, as the southpaw is slated to hit free agency at season’s end and previously figured to be one of the most sought-after targets in a thin 2018-2019 free agent starting pitcher class. After some early-career struggles that led to somewhat of a journeyman adventure, Pomeranz caught fire with the Athletics in 2014 and went on to hurl 499 1/3 innings through the end of the 2017 season. During that span, he managed to consistently out-pitch his peripherals and earned a 3.24 ERA mark that bested his FIP by more than half a run. He also struck out more than a batter per inning during that time.
For now, though, it seems as though Pomeranz is destined to pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season. In order to restore his free agent stock, he’ll need to pitch well enough to earn a place in Boston’s playoff rotation, and he’ll face a difficult battle in that area considering how little time he has to make that case.