Boston Red Sox

Drellich: Pomeranz is most underappreciated member of 2017 Red Sox

Drellich: Pomeranz is most underappreciated member of 2017 Red Sox

BOSTON — Yes, people have started to recognize and realize that Drew Pomeranz has had a very strong season. That he’s excelled at a time when the Red Sox really need him. 

First, there were injuries to Eduardo Rodriguez, and next, to David Price. Nearly every time out, Pomeranz looks reliable. With strikeout stuff to boot.

But the lefty still has to be the title-holder. He’s the most under appreciated member of the 2017 Red Sox.

Who else could it be? Tzu-Wei Lin might have gotten more public praise during his cup of coffee in the big leagues than Pomeranz.

The 3.39 ERA Pomeranz carries after Saturday’s 10-5 win over the Yankees is coincidentally the same mark Price had in his final 28 starts of last season, and Price was a huge piece once mid-May passed last year. 

Going into Saturday’s 6 2/3 innings of three-run ball, Pomeranz had some really impressive statistical company inside of this season, as well.

Andrew Benintendi’s two home runs in a huge game at Yankee Stadium stole the show Saturday, rightfully. But Pomeranz’s excellence has been steady.

He started the day at 2.4 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs' calculation. That placed him 29th in the majors among starters. The 30th ranked pitcher was Jose Quintana, the lefty whom the White Sox moved to the Cubs in a big July trade. Quintana had 2.3 WAR. 

The 28th best pitcher, also at 2.4 WAR, was Justin Verlander. 

At No. 26, with 2.5 WAR, was Jon Lester.

Wins above replacement is just one measurement of performance. Pomeranz isn’t exactly Lester, no. 

But Big Smooth, as Pomeranz has been nicknamed, has made himself into the team’s No. 2 starter. His health, and the training staff and doctors that helped him get healthy, deserve a lot of credit.

So too does Pomeranz’s cutter, which is getting whiffs on 36 percent of swings, per's numbers entering Saturday. That’s 10 percentage points better than last year, the season Pomeranz introduced that cutter. His changeup’s also faring very well.

"I think it's different [compared to San Deigo],” Pomeranz told reporters at Yankee Stadium Saturday. “I feel better. I was one-dimensional at times when I was over there. I had a good curveball and a good glove-side fastball. Now I think I've developed a lot of things to help me win games and help me make pitches against these guys.”

Pomeranz has a higher groundball rate than both Rick Porcello and Chris Sale. Pomeranz has also done a good job stranding runners.

“The one thing that Drew has done, he’s kept us in a lot of ballgames because he’s found a way to navigate when there’s been men on base,” Sox manager John Farrell said Saturday.

A little luck can be involved there. But there’s no luck when it comes to a strikeout rate above 9 per nine innings.

So give it up for Pomeranz — and for the Red Sox front office that traded for him with an eye on what he could do for the team in the future, not just in 2016. They traded for an All-Star, and they got one this year.

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

CLEVELAND — Jackie Bradley Jr. will head back to Boston on Wednesday morning for an MRI after he hurt his left thumb sliding into home plate in Tuesday’s 9-1 win over the Indians. X-Rays taken after Bradley was removed from the game at Progressive Field were negative.

Bradley was racing home in the seventh inning and went into a feet-first slide angled to the outside of the plate when he hit his hand awkwardly on the ground. Catcher Yan Gomes didn’t get the tag down in time.

“I’m not worried about it, no,” said Bradley, who will return to Cleveland later Wednesday, but is not expected to play right away. “Right now, it feels alright. I guess, as good it can be kind of after the injury. But, I feel like I’ll be alright.”

Bradley, who earlier in the game hit his 14th home run of the season, decided to change his slide at the last minute.

“As I was coming around third, a few steps before home plate I wanted to slide headfirst because I could control it,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t going to slide anywhere near him. I was going to slide headfirst and just have my hand just kind of reach around. But as I was approaching I kind of could see him gather it. He started coming to kind of block off the plate, so I kind of had to redirect my slide. 

“I actually slid feet first, but I also slid to the outside part of the plate, tried to avoid the tag and then slapped my hand at the back of the plate. And as I slapped the back of the plate, his glove kind of got me in the forearm, and my thumb got caught with the ground and kind of bent in all directions I guess.”

Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t pleased with the lane Gomes allowed Bradley.

But it’s hard to see what Gomes did wrong, by the rules, which state “it shall not be considered a violation of [the rule] if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw.”

Gomes didn’t end up fully blocking the base line and he made what looked like a normal effort to get the ball where it was thrown. 

The initial safe call was challenged by the Indians and was upheld. Farrell was going to ask the umpires to look at a different aspect had the call been overturned

“He’s got to give a lane, didn’t feel like there was a lane being given at all,” Farrell said. “He had to reach back and unfortunately it puts him in a position where the thumb is exposed.”

Can't rush Carson

Carson Smith isn’t going to be rushed back because of Matt Barnes’ trip to the disabled list. Smith may pitch with just one day of rest in between Triple-A Pawtucket rehab outings this week, but he’s not in a position to race back after so much time missed.

Mookie Betts learned from Isaiah Thomas

Mookie Betts learned from Isaiah Thomas

CLEVELAND — Mookie Betts was taken aback like everyone else when he saw the Celtics landed Kyrie Irving.

“Before the game, we were playing video games, kind of saw it go across the screen,” Betts said. “It was kind of shocking. I didn't think it was going to happen.”

The trade takes one of Betts’ friends out of Boston. He’s gotten to know Isiah Thomas a little bit. They had not spoken as of Tuesday night, but Betts said he expects to see at least a couple of Thomas' games this season.

“Everybody talks about his size and that type of thing, just his heart,” Betts said. “That's the main thing you see, the things that he went through this year as far as his family, he lost a tooth and all of those type of things. He lays it out on the line every day he goes, and he wants to be the best player in the gym and he shows it. That's what you'll miss as far as a big star leaving.”

They’re not best friends, but had gotten to know each other a little.

“When I talked to him, I got a chance to pick his brain and use it for myself,” Betts said.

As for how Irving will do in his new digs?

“I think he'll be fine, especially with Brad Stevens,” Betts said.