In 2016 Drew Pomeranz was a member of the San Diego Padres … for about half a season. But that half a season was one of the best stretches of his 9-year Major League career.
“It was great. My last time playing here (at Petco Park as a Padre) was the All-Star Game,” Pomeranz said. “As we did the caravan through the City I just saw the excitement of the fans that day. It was a pretty cool experience. I really enjoy the fan base here and I’m really excited to be back.”
Pomeranz tossed a scoreless 4th inning in the 2016 Midsummer Classic and was traded to the Red Sox before he could pitch another inning in a Padres uniform. Since then it's been a rocky road as a starting pitcher. Last year Pomeranz was traded from the Giants to the Brewers and eventually moved to the bullpen, which at first did not make him happy.
“I wasn’t ready to give up on myself as a starter,” Pomeranz said. “But clearly it was the best case.”
No question about that. Pomeranz became a lockdown lefty. In 28.2 innings he had a 1.88 ERA with 50 strikeouts and just eight walks. But the craziest thing is his average fastball went from 92 miles an hour as a starter to 96 MPH as a reliever.
Pomeranz had worked in the off-season to increase his velocity but when he went to the ‘pen he simply decided to stop pacing himself and throw as hard as he can for as long as he can, which fits the way the game is played in 2020 anyway.
“Teams are more focused on quality over quantity anyway so am I’m going to go out there and be mediocre for five or six innings or just be all-out for one, two or three innings? I kind of embraced that side of it,” Pomeranz added.
The Padres signed him to be a bullpen piece and Pomeranz says he’s accepted that. He knows he hasn't given up on himself as a starter. He's been reborn as a stopper.
“For me it was the realization of this is what I need to do to be successful and it worked for me.”
The Padres are betting $34 million over 4 years that it keeps working in his second San Diego stint.