Regardless of whether or not the Rockies were currently employing an absurd starting rotation system that involves the word “piggyback,” young Drew Pomeranz was not going to be able to pitch deep into the game tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he surrendered only 2 hits and struck out 7, he also walked 3 and hit 2 batters. He was constantly fighting himself over the course of 4 tedious shutout innings in the team’s 2-0 victory over the Dodgers.
Pomeranz was sent to the minor leagues earlier this season to work on staying on top of his fastball. Generally he is doing a better of this, as evidenced by some peppy heaters that finished a number of his strikeouts tonight. But there continues to be moments when he works under it, which leads to struggles with his command and strings of unnecessary and troublesome walks. By troublesome I mean either 1. walks in front of the heart of the opponents’ lineup or 2. walks with 2 outs. Tonight he had both.
Grit, guts, and potential stardom were on full display when Pomeranz worked out of a couple of jams that consisted of runners on base for Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. That is a good thing. But the fact he put himself in those predicaments shows the room for growth that is still there.
For Pomeranz it is the difference between going 4 shutout innings and going 6 shutout innings. It is also the difference between being an established presence in the rotation when the likes of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Juan Nicasio return from their battles with injuries and/or ineffectiveness or being stuck as a pitcher who still needs development for a franchise that desperately needs stability in its pitching staff.
This all speaks to the pressure being placed on Pomeranz as the Rockie’s worst season in franchise history immediately follows the one in which the earth-shattering trade for him took place. When he steps up and is at his best, he shows he is up to the challenge. He now has to show that he is up to it each time he takes the mound, for each inning and each hitter.