Not since the days of Sterling Hitchcock, have the San Diego Padres had such a dominant left-handed pitcher as they now possess in their rotation. Drew Pomeranz has taken his game to the next level and after stops with three other organizations, the Padres are the team that is reaping the benefits of his growth.
When the team dealt Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski to the Oakland Athletics, the Padres acquired Pomeranz, Jose Torres and the rights to Jabari Blash from the Mariners via the Rule-5 draft. Alonso pretty much wore out his welcome in San Diego, as it was quite evident that he would never be a power-hitting first baseman that the team needed. To get two young arms and the first pick in the Rule-5 draft was an excellent haul for Alonso and Rzepczynski. Alonso started off slowly but has hit well recently for the A’s.
A.J. Preller did extremely well in that deal but yet still gets no credit at all for the improvements he has made to this franchise. Instead all the critics point to the talent the Padres dealt away individually instead of looking at the bigger picture. Sure Trea Turner, Mallex Smith, Max Fried, Joe Ross and company might become excellent major league players, but there are no guarantees when it comes to any of them. The critique of the Padres is nothing new, but in reality those that follow the team closely can see that this franchise is starting to grow.
Pomeranz is locked up for the next three seasons. With Andrew Cashner due for free agency after the year and Tyson Ross due for free agency after the 2017 season, the Padres definitely needed a top-notch starter who was locked up long-term. It is early but Pomeranz seems poised to be that man. He looks like a man on a mission right now. His demeanor on the mound tells you that he has grown as a pitcher. Instead of always attempting to throw the ball by everyone, he is now able to pitch to contact. He has learned to get quick outs by keeping batters off-balance, but at the same time he has the stuff to get the strike out when batters find themselves with two strikes on them.
It’s very exciting to see his development. Pomeranz does not have mid to high 90’s heat with his fastball either. His usage of his offspeed stuff make his low 90’s fastball seem like its 100+ MPH to hitters. He pounds the strike zone with his hard-breaking knuckle curve and changeup and batters are just blown away with his fastball. He also locates his fastball well and that is a key to his success so far in the 2016 season.
To crown Pomeranz the Padres new ace is a bit premature. He has never thrown over 101 innings at the professional level and that was done in 2011 his first year in professional baseball for the Indians. In 2012 and 2013 he threw 96 and 91 total innings, but he hasn’t been fully stretched out for a season. Once Pomeranz hits the months of July and August he will be hitting uncharted waters. It is difficult to predict if the additional innings will be a stress on the left hander. Manger Andy Green will likely proceed with caution with his young pitcher.
The fact Pomeranz will easily eclipse his highest innings pitched total this season is a bit concerning. However this year will be the first time he was given the chance to throw solely as a starter. You cannot deny the fact he has been the Padres best starting pitcher and the team will run him out there as long as he is physically able to pitch. All that from a player who was supposed to be a bullpen piece and had an outside chance of making the rotation. A.J. Preller did well in acquiring Pomeranz and he is paying off big time for the Padres.