TODAY: Pomeranz has not been removed from the rotation, Bochy told Schulman (Twitter links) and other reporters today. Anderson is slated to start on Thursday, which would have been Pomeranz’s normal turn, though Pomeranz could still make a start next weekend. In the interim, however, Pomeranz could potentially come out of the bullpen if required.
YESTERDAY: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, one of the Giants’ most notable offseason acquisitions, is changing roles. The team has moved Pomeranz out of its rotation and into its bullpen, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Pomeranz is now the third starter the struggling Giants have dropped from their rotation since the season began. They previously relegated righty Dereck Rodriguez and lefty Derek Holland after they got off to poor starts. With Pomeranz joining those two in the bullpen, lefty Madison Bumgarner and righty Jeff Samardzija are the only survivors from San Francisco’s year-opening starting five.
Along with Holland, Pomeranz was one of just three free agents the Giants signed to major league contracts during a low-spending winter for the franchise. New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi handed Pomeranz a one-year, $1.5MM guarantee, but the minimal investment hasn’t gone well for either party thus far.
A former Rockie, Athletic, Padre and Red Sox, Pomeranz has racked up 10 starts with the Giants, averaging a bit under four innings per appearance (39 total) while posting a hideous 8.08 ERA/6.45 FIP. Pomeranz has struck out nearly 10 hitters per nine, but that hasn’t been enough to cancel out his other problems – mainly an unappealing walk rate (4.85 BB/9) and significant issues keeping the ball in the park. The 30-year-old Pomeranz’s home run-to-fly ball rate is at a career-worst 26.2 percent, more than double his lifetime mark (12.9). Pomeranz has yielded the majority of his HRs outside of pitcher-friendly San Francisco, unsurprisingly, though he hasn’t been effective there either. He’s also getting demolished by right-handed hitters, who have recorded a .436 weighted on-base average off him (for reference, Christian Yelich’s 2019 wOBA is .440).
Including his work against lefties, batters have feasted on Pomeranz for a .420 wOBA. Statcast paints a less bleak picture, crediting Pomeranz with a still-unimpressive .369 xwOBA against. He’s suffering from poor fortune in the BABIP (.369) and strand rate (67.7) departments, and has experienced a jump in velocity compared to last season. But none of that is of any solace to the Giants, who saw Pomeranz allow 22 earned runs on 25 hits (six HRs) and nine walks in 10 1/3 innings in May.
This is the second straight season a team has taken Pomeranz out of its rotation. The Red Sox did it last year during an injury-limited campaign for Pomeranz, who collected 15 relief appearances out of 26. Among hurlers who have thrown at least 100 innings dating back to 2018, Pomeranz ranks last in ERA (6.77), fourth worst in FIP (5.78) and fWAR (minus-1.0), and fifth from the bottom in BB/9 (5.18). It’s a steep drop for someone who was once a top prospect and isn’t far removed from a terrific run as a big league starter. Pomeranz excelled with San Diego in 2016, when it sent him to Boston that summer in a controversial trade for then-premium pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, and enjoyed another quality year with the BoSox the next season.
The 2016-17 version of Pomeranz now looks long gone, and barring a seismic turnaround over the next few months, he’ll likely have to settle for a minor league deal on his next pact. Free agency could come sooner than expected for Pomeranz if the Giants release him during the season, which doesn’t seem like a far-fetched idea. In the meantime, Pomeranz will try to rebuild his stock in the Giants’ bullpen. San Francisco will eventually have to pick someone else to slot into its rotation behind Bumgarner, Samardzija, Shaun Anderson and Tyler Beede, but it has enough off days on the horizon to wait on making a decision.