Drew Pomeranz returned to the San Diego Padres this winter on a free-agent deal. If you ask him, the choice was easy for the left-handed pitcher.
The San Diego Padres brought back a familiar player, as the team signed Drew Pomeranz this winter.
It is not as though the bullpen needed a boost, as the Padres had one of the strongest bunches in all of baseball last year. The addition of Pomeranz may not have been a necessity, but the Padres are hoarding relievers at the moment.
Sometimes free agency does not work out for a player. For Drew Pomeranz, it did not go well his first time around. A non-productive 2018 season resulted in the pitcher signing a one-year deal with the Giants last winter for $1.5 million. Pomeranz went 2-9 with San Francisco in 17 starts and 21 games posting a 5.61 ERA and a 1.609 WHIP before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in July of 2019 for a minor league infielder.
At this point is when Pomeranz’s season turned the corner.
Milwaukee acquired the pitcher intending to use him out of the bullpen. This idea might not have been appealing to the left-handed pitcher, but he embraced the role. “I think when I got put in the bullpen, I started to throw things as hard as I could. It fixed a lot of problems I was having,” Pomeranz said. By just letting it go, his extension on his follow-through improved, and so did the velocity on his fastball. With the Brewers, Pomeranz recorded a 2.39 ERA and a 0.911 WHIP in 25 games and 26.1 innings pitched. The southpaw struck out 45 in that time and only walked eight batters.
Numbers like this resulted in Pomeranz signing a four-year/$34-million deal with the Padres this winter. “They came on pretty strong, and they wanted me around here,” Pomeranz said. “It felt good. Because the year before, I struggled to get offers. This offseason was different for me. It was much more enjoyable.”
San Diego was aggressive as A.J. Preller and his staff value the fact that Pomeranz has decent splits against both left-handed batters and right-handed ones. With the new three-batter rule in effect, Pomeranz has tremendous value as long as he can replicate what he did in the last half of 2019.
The idea of returning to San Diego was appealing to the lefty. Asked if it was a tough choice to return to the Padres, his answer was clear. “Not really. I had great experiences when I was here last time. They want to win here, and I want to be a part of that,” Pomeranz said. There is a great belief from him that this squad is close to being very special.
Making an All-Star team in 2016 for the Padres, the last thing Drew Pomeranz thought was that he would be traded. But that is precisely what happened as the lefty was dealt to the Boston Red Sox for young pitcher Anderson Espinoza. “After the All-Star game, getting traded the next day. It’s like everything was and good, and the next day I was gone,” Pomeranz said. That is all water under the bridge now for the pitcher. Baseball is like life. Sometimes come things come full circle as both Espinoza and Pomeranz share the same locker room in Peoria for the Padres.
The Padres are Pomeranz’s seventh organization since the 2011 season when he broke into the league as a Rockie. The southpaw has been around the block and gained much from each place he has visited. I have been in a lot of different places and seen a lot of different things while playing with a lot of guys. I have been able to learn a lot of different stuff from many people,” Pomeranz said with confidence. There is a sense of pride that he has worked with several organizations in cultivating his craft.
In embracing different pitching philosophies, Pomeranz spoke about the value of Rapsodo Machines and Edgertronic Cameras. “I have used them. I don’t really use them too much,” Pomeranz said. The usage of these systems is still debated in the clubhouse and it is refreshing that an elder pitcher is embracing the technology. “I feel it is more of a checkpoint or something to show you where your numbers should be. I don’t try to re-invent myself on that thing. I mean, I have one. I think it is good for working on a specific pitch. It tells you where you are at,” Pomeranz said in regards to the Rapsodo Machine. The coaching staff and Pomeranz are aware of what his numbers should be and that gives them a goal to attain each time he takes the mound.
Little tricks of the trade are what make a polished major league pitcher. “I have learned a lot. Being around the staff we had in Boston. I was able to pick up a few things here and there. Whether it is reading hitters or learning how to attack guys or something,” Pomeranz said. The veteran will provide another set of eyes in the bullpen to assist in the growth of Andres Munoz, Jose Castillo, and the rest of the young Padres’ relief core. The Padres are happy with the addition of Pomeranz and the pitcher is content with his decision to return to San Diego.