In defense of Oakland Athletics’ Drew Pomeranz


Somebody looks to finally be living up to his billing as a first round draft pick, and it’s not outfielder Chris Coghlan. Instead, it’s another former Ole Miss Rebel baseball player, pitcher Drew Pomeranz of the Oakland Athletics.

Count on someone with Billy Beane‘s savvy to conjure up the acquisition of one seemingly fledgling player for another, only to instead, on the surface at least, have put himself in a position to have the last laugh. Out of thin air it would appear — Colorado’s thin air to be exact — the Athletics’ GM has maybe made the Rockies rue the day they parted with Pomeranz.

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Pomeranz was selected fifth overall in 2010 by the Cleveland Indians. He ended up being a piece used by the Tribe to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies in a 2011 July trade. Despite a 3.08 ERA in the minor leagues, Pomeranz was a dud for the Rockies. But most pitchers are. In defense of Pomeranz and anyone who has pitched consistently at Coors Field, expectations should always be tempered. Even the mighty Clayton Kershaw has a career ERA of 4.58 in 15 road starts in Denver’s thin air.

Pomeranz’s best season with the Rockies came in 2012 when he started 22 games. On the road, his ERA was 4.96 in 11 starts and 4.91 in 11 home starts. 2013 was even worse, with him pitching most of the year in the farm system. Beane must have seen something in him though, because he shipped oft-injured Brett Anderson and two years remaining on his contract (2015 being a buyout option) to Colorado for Pomeranz and RHP prospect Chris Jensen after the 2013 season.

After starting only eight games in 2014 for Colorado, the club exercised the buyout option on Anderson and the Rockies have nothing left to show from the trade. Anderson was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 31, 2014. Meanwhile, Beane and the Athletics have Pomeranz under contract through the 2018 season and Jensen down on the farm, where he posted a 12-8 record with a 3.14 ERA in a full season at Double-A Midland with the RockHounds last year.

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Pomeranz was great for the A’s last season when he played. In 10 starts with 20 total appearances, he posted a 2.35 ERA with five wins. His K/9 mark of 8.3 was the highest of his career and his FIP of 3.77 was much improved from the 4.81 number he carried in 2012. Essentially, everything about Pomeranz’s approach since shifting over the to American League with the A’s has given credence to the notion that he is capable of being an impact pitcher in this league. His .204 BAA was a career best and so was his .246 BAbip.

For 2015, Sonny Gray is not going anywhere as the ace of the staff. Scott Kazmir and Jesse Hahn‘s jobs are likely safe, but after that, the departures of Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel leaves plenty room for Pomeranz to snatch a rotation gig. His three spring starts have all signs pointing in that direction. He’s gone nine strong so far, allowing only two earned runs while striking out 15 and walking 3. Pomeranz currently leads all pitchers in spring training strikeouts.

Only 26, the southpaw from Memphis, TN looks like he is ready to become a consummate professional in MLB after getting over the steep learning curve that was brought before him with three tough seasons in Colorado. The Oakland Athletics should be able to rely on Drew Pomeranz as a solid mid-rotation option for their club in 2015.

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