Pomeranz takes a turn
Lefty unable to celebrate, rest
Most starting pitchers head home early the night before their start, opting for sufficient rest and relaxation to help them prepare.
Last night, Drew Pomeranz chose not to go home.
The Red Sox entered last night’s game against the Houston Astros one win away from celebrating an AL East title and Pomeranz wanted to be there to spray the champagne.
Instead, the Sox suffered a 3-2 loss and will have to try again today, when Pomeranz takes the mound.
“I couldn’t leave,” Pomeranz said. “It’s like, it was a quick game anyway. It’s not like it was getting over at midnight. I couldn’t leave.” His workload nearing a career high, Pomeranz’ shrinking velocity is only more reason for the Red Sox to try and rest their clear-cut No. 2 starter before the playoffs begin. But with another loss last night, and the New York Yankees winning, the Sox will have to start Pomeranz for today’s game.
Pomeranz, whose only postseason experience came in the form of two relief outings for the Sox last year, said today’s start will be one of the biggest games of his career.
“I guess, yeah, but all these games have been big,” he said. “We’re in a good position here. With two games left, let’s try to keep it simple out there.”
Pomeranz will be up against Astros right-hander Lance McCullers (7-3, 4.01 ERA).
“It is what it is,” Pomeranz said. “It’s just a game when it comes down to it. Have to go out there and keep things simple and make pitches. They’re a good team, obviously, but our division is pretty good. We’re pretty much facing good teams every time out.”
Keep an eye on the radar gun.
While he’s predominantly known for a curveball that he throws 37 percent of the time, his fastball has actually been his best pitch this season, holding opponents to a .223 average.
He was averaging 92-93 mph on his heater during July and August, but that average dropped to 90-91 mph in his first few starts in September and fell to 88-89 mph over his most recent two outings.
“Even when it was down three or four starts ago I’ve still been blowing it by these guys with the same velocity,” Pomeranz said. “It’s more just about location and pitch usage at this point, as far as mixing it up.”
Pomeranz continues to say his body feels fine, though he hasn’t been a poster boy for perfect health over the past 12 months. He had a stem cell shot in his elbow in the offseason, spent 10 days on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his forearm in early April, walked off the mound with a triceps injury once in spring training and another time in May and again walked off the mound with an injury in August, this time due to back spasms.
Sale in limbo
Chris Sale is still scheduled to start tomorrow, but will likely be skipped if the division is clinched.
Lefty Roenis Elias and righty Hector Velazquez are the two likely candidates to take Sale’s start if the Red Sox decide to rest him. Both were starting in Triple-A Pawtucket before they were called up when rosters expanded in September.
Prior to this series, the Sox hadn’t faced the Astros since June and would prefer not to show them their best two starting pitchers, given the teams are likely to play again in the Division Series next week.
“The schedule is what it is,” Farrell said. “I mean, it’s gonna lend to a lot more familiarity, particularly with a team that is outside your division. We get 19 games against everybody within it. This’ll be a highly condensed number of games in a short period of time. So we’ll know a lot about them before this is all said and done.”
JBJ grabs seat
Jackie Bradley Jr. snapped a six-game hitless streak with a 1-for-4 performance on Thursday. Last night, he was on the bench.
Against Astros righty Charlie Morton, Farrell wanted to give Bradley a day off.
“There’s been at times a little bit of a chase outside of the strike zone,” Farrell said. “And I talked with Jackie a few days ago, that we’re trying to get him a day down, but then Mookie (Betts) had the hand issue. And it just so happens it comes today against Morton, who has got reverse splits in his own way.”
Rajai Davis went 1-for-3 with a run scored in Bradley’s absence.
After hitting .224 with a .569 OPS in 26 games from Aug. 20 to Sept. 17, Rafael Devers looked to be back on track with a five-game hitting streak, in which he homered twice, leading into the homestead.
He was 1-for-4 with a double last night and is just 2-for-19 in his last five games.
“I think when you look at Raffy’s time here, the two months he’s been there, he makes a big splash when he enters, the league starts to counteract that, then he’s able to do some things to adjust accordingly,” Farrell said. “I think we’ve found that some periodic days off his feet have benefited him. And yet all the while, we’re talking about a 20-year-old young man who’s still adjusting to the league.” …
Christian Vazquez was a late scratch from the lineup and was replaced by Sandy Leon. According to Farrell, the decision was not related to any injury.
PITCHING IN: David Price went 12⁄3 innings of scoreless relief last night, striking out a pair as the Red Sox dropped a 3-2 decision to the Astros at Fenway.