Athletics calling up Drew Pomeranz to start Wednesday

Leave a comment

According to Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com, Athletics manager Bob Melvin confirmed this evening that Drew Pomeranz will called up from Triple-A Sacramento to start Wednesday against the Astros. The change lines up Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija to start in a big four-game series against the Angels later this week.

Pomeranz began this season in the A’s bullpen, but moved into the rotation in May and posted an impressive 1.88 ERA over his first seven starts. However, he was rocked for eight runs (seven earned) over 3 2/3 innings on June 16 before punching a chair in frustration and breaking his right hand. He has pitched exclusively in Triple-A since returning to full health, putting up a 3.69 ERA and 54/17 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings over eight starts.

This is just a one-start deal for now, but if Jason Hammel struggles tomorrow and Pomeranz pitches well on Wednesday, one wonders if Melvin could consider a change for September.

Nationals’ starting pitching carrying them into World Series

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In my postseason preview at the end of September, I listed the Nationals’ starting rotation as a strength and their bullpen as a weakness. Anyone who had followed the club this season could have told you that. Even the Nats are aware of it as manager Dave Martinez has leaned on his rotation to hide his sometimes unreliable ‘pen.

In Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Martinez was burned by his bullpen as Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, and Hunter Strickland combined to allow six base runners and four runs. Martinez used ace Max Scherzer in relief in Game 2, sandwiched by Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. Starter Patrick Corbin pitched in relief in Game 3 and it backfired, but the bullpen after Corbin continued to allow more runs — three officially, but Wander Suero allowed two inherited runners to score on a three-run homer by Max Muncy. Martinez only had to rely on Doolittle and Hudson in Game 4 and he again went to Corbin in relief in Game 5.

The strategy was clear: use the actual bullpen as little as possible. If Martinez absolutely has to, Doolittle and Hudson get top priory by a country mile, followed by a starter, then the rest of the bullpen.

Thankfully for Martinez and the Nationals, the starting pitching has done yeoman’s work in the NLCS, jumping out to a three games to none series lead over the Cardinals. Aníbal Sánchez famously brought a no-hit bid into the eighth inning of Game 1, finally relenting a two-out single to José Martínez before his night was over. Doolittle got the final four outs in the 2-0 win. Max Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter in his Game 2 start as well, losing it when Paul Goldschmidt led off the seventh with a single. He was erased on an inning-ending double play. Doolittle, Corbin, and Hudson got the final six outs in the 3-1 victory.

It was more of the same in Game 3. While Stephen Strasburg didn’t flirt with a no-hitter, he was dominant over seven innings, yielding one unearned run on seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. The Nats’ offense woke up, amassing eight runs through seven innings which allowed Martinez to give his main relief guys a night off. Rodney and Rainey each pitched a perfect inning of relief with two strikeouts in low-leverage situations, their first appearances in the NLCS.

The Nationals starting pitching has been outstanding by itself, but it has also had the secondary effect of allowing Martinez to hide his team’s biggest weakness. Now Martinez just has to hope for more of the same for one more game, then at least four more in the World Series.