In mid-June, during a start versus the Houston Astros, Drew Pomeranz a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox began the seven inning leading 1-0. That was the second time all season that Pomeranz had pitched into the seventh.
Going back to May 20, the Red Sox starter did not reach the fifth inning for a third straight outing. He only gave up one earned run over four innings but threw 97 pitches as he gave up five hits and a pair of walks in that start.
Pomeranz’s next start was his best of the season putting up six innings, allowing two runs but striking out 11 to beat Texas.
Going back to that start, Pomeranz has pitched very well for six consecutive weeks with an ERA of 2.54, a WHIP of 1.20 and 47 strikeouts over 46 innings. This has helped give Boston middle of the rotation stability.
For the past six weeks, Pomeranz increased his usage of his cut fastball. He barely used the pitch at the beginning of the season throwing it 11 times in his first 724 pitches or 1.5% of the time.
However, starting with his strong outing versus Texas, Pomeranz begin throwing the cutter more and during his past eight starts has thrown it 8% of the time or 64 times in 797 pitches.
It has helped that the cutters thrown by Pomeranz have induced swings and misses as well as weak contact. That pitch has a 14.7% whiff rate, which is a huge number for any type of fastball.
For instance, the four-seam fastball of Max Scherzer which is arguably the best in baseball today has a 12.7% whiff rate.
Comparing the whiff rate to Jon Lester who is known to have one of the game’s best cutters shows that Lester this season has a 12% whiff rate and has been higher than 14.7% only twice during his entire career.
Hitters all season have put just 12 cutters from Pomeranz into play. Seven were grounders, and three of five hits he has allowed were singles. A pair of popups and he has a whiff, popup or grounder rate of 26.7% for all his cutters thus far.
If you only include cutters that hitters have swung at, that same numbers skyrockets to 65%.
There is no way of determining how much the reemergence of Pomeranz since late May has had an effect on Boston’s play, but the Red Sox are currently sitting in first place in the American League East by 3 ½ games over the New York Yankees.