Thrown just 29 times in 2019, Pomeranz’ changeup gained three mph in average velocity and holding opposing hitters to a .125 AVG and a .250 OPS. One has to wonder with it’s results and velo gains that we might see him utilize the pitch more often in 2020.
Long heralded as Pomeranz’ best pitch, his curveball has never quite worked exactly how we expected it to. That being said, it truly is a very good pitch. It rolls off the table beautifully but doesn’t get hitters to chase out of the zone or whiff at the rate you would expect it to. Instead it relies quite a bit on called strikes and fooling the hitter to get it’s strikeouts and boy does it ever (31.1 K%!) In addition it held opposing hitters to a .267 AVG and a .692 OPS.
Pomeranz’ fastball may have been his best pitch in 2019. With a ton of rising vertical action and solid horizontal movement, it was an incredibly effective pitch in really every way. It did a great job of generating weakly hit fly balls (47.8 FB%, 23.1 IFFB%) while also getting hitters to chase it out of the zone (29.0 O-Swing%) and getting both whiffs (13.1 SwStr%) and strikeouts (34.4 K%). All in all this lead to a pitch that was worth 6.5 pVAL in 2019.
The cutter was Pomeranz’ achilles heel as it failed to generate much in the way of desired results. It didn’t get folks to chase it out of the zone (17.1 O-Swing%) but was rarely thrown in the zone (36.4 Zone%). Hitters teed off on it to the tune of a .350 AVG with a 150 wRC+ and .959 OPS.
Pomeranz fought a strained left forearm and biceps tendinitis in an injury-shortened year, and look no further than his four-seamer to see the negative effects. The pitch’s velocity was down two ticks to an average of 89.4 mph, and with that loss in velocity came the bombs. Pitching in the AL East’s small ballparks did no favors, as his four-seamer sported a .260 ISO, .365 wOBA, and 17.8 HR/FB%. He should benefit from a change of ballparks to San Francisco, but he’ll need to have to see a bounceback in his velocity to get back to his sub-3.50 ERA days.
Pomeranz’s curveball went from elite to, well, second-worst among pitchers who threw fewer than 70 innings (8.8 pVal in 2017 to -12.7 in 2018). Everything was just a mess. The ground-ball rate went from 70% in 2016 to 55.3% in 2018. The swinging-strike rate plummeted to 6.4%, which caused the K rate to drop from 32.6% in 2016 to 13.9% in 2018.
The first stat that stands out with Pomeranz’s two-seamer is a .200 BAA. Good news, right? So how did he allow a plus-.400 wOBA on the pitch for the fourth straight season? Pomeranz struggled to throw it for strikes, and the pitch had a 29.7 BB%.
The tiny bright spot of 2018 for Pomeranz was his cutter, which earned a 0.7 pVal. The pitch had a 27.3 K%, although it only had a 5.7 SwStr% and 21.9 O-swing%. It would be interesting to see him increase the use of his cutter and decrease the use of that bad two-seamer.
Pomeranz only threw his changeup 1.66% of the time, so the pitch isn’t a major part of his repertoire. Overall it has similar movement to his bad two-seamer, but ideally, dropping both pitches would benefit his game.