Cactus League Game 15, Athletics at Mariners
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Drew Pomeranz, 1:05pm
Drew Pomeranz was once the 5th pick in the draft, a consensus top prospect, and the centerpiece of a trade for an ace (Ubaldo Jimenez). It was one of those trades that everyone thinks is going to be gigantic, a trade that can transform the fortunes of both clubs – sort of like the Pineda/Montero swap the M’s and Yankees made. And, like that trade, I think it ended up looking a lot more important than it actually was. Jimenez struggled down the stretch in 2011 and spent 2012 as a replacement-level pitcher. He bounced back in 2013, sort of like Pineda in 2014, but that just earned him a contract somewhere else. Meanwhile, Pomeranz struggled to find a third pitch behind his fastball and curve. The two pitches had been enough in the minors, but his attempts at developing a change-up hadn’t produced another MLB-level pitch. Ultimately, the Rockies sent him out – as a complementary piece this time – for Brett Anderson.
The A’s haven’t figured out how to turn Pomeranz’s change into a good pitch either. In fact, the best thing they’ve done with it is convince him to stop throwing it. Instead, they built confidence in his sinker, a pitch he threw sparingly in Colorado, but which became a key part of his arsenal last season. While it actually didn’t improve his GB% overall, it’s given him a GB pitch to throw to righties. Lefties get a steady diet of four-seamers, while righties get the sinker. This means that he’s got sharply different batted ball results depending on the handedness of the hitter, but in a park like Oakland, fly balls don’t matter. Filling in for injured starters, Pomeranz put together a surprisingly effective 2014, throwing 69 innings of solid, league-average-to-better baseball. Sure, an 80%+ strand rate made the ERA even better than that, but Pomeranz improved his K% while lowering his walk rate all while facing lefties the majority of the time. The A’s constant rotation churn means he still doesn’t have a spot lined up, but he’s a key part of the A’s enviable pitching depth.
1: Weeks, DH
2: Jackson, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Ruggiano, LF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
Weeks starts at DH so he can get to a dentist’s appointment (he’ll get 3 ABs quicker this way).
Today’s the day the M’s 2015 commercials come out. They should be up at Mariners.com or twitter – I’d link ’em, but I’m writing this before release. Good? Bad? Better than last years?
Good article from Bob Dutton on David Rollins, the hard-throwing Rule 5 LOOGY candidate. Tyler Olson’s spring has opened a lot of eyes, but Rollins’ pure stuff (including a FB that sits 94-94) looks impressive. Olson’s frisbee slider looks perfect for the LOOGY role, while Rollins admits his slider hasn’t been “on” this spring. That said, Rollins rising FB can be effective even when facing a righty pinch hitter. The second lefty in the pen is not going to decide the AL West, and the M’s look like they have several solid candidates. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s Rollins job to lose.