It looks like the San Diego Padres have avoided a worst-case scenario – at least for now.
Recent tests showed no structural damage in the left arm of reliever Drew Pomeranz, so fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The southpaw had been sidelined with left forearm tightness which immediately sets off alarm bells and makes us all think ‘Tommy John.’
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But for now, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Pomeranz will play a critical role in San Diego’s bullpen this season as the go-to late-inning left-hander. The team has other options, namely Tim Hill and Matt Strahm, but neither really boast the overpowering stuff that Pomeranz has in his arsenal.
Last season, Pomeranz was lights-out for the Friars, averaging a career-best 14 strikeouts per nine. He made 20 appearances out of the pen, working to a 1.45 ERA and 2.39 FIP. The former starter showed that he’s a valuable late-arm presence and a key part to the Padres’ success moving forward.
In the second year of a four-year, $34 million contract, Pomeranz is still just 32 years old. The former first-rounder is expected to get back on the mound in the next week and be ready for Opening Day.
Padres: Can the team withstand a loss of someone like Drew Pomeranz?
Lately, there have been all kinds of injury scares for San Diego. Strahm is out recovering from knee surgery, Javy Guerra is sidelined and won’t be ready for the start of the season. So losing Pomeranz would have been a big blow to the bullpen depth – especially from the left side.
Adrian Morejon seems pegged for the fifth and final spot in the rotation with Dinelson Lamet continuing to work up to full strength. That removes him from the bullpen mix and his swingman role – which only puts more emphasis on the importance of the other lefties in the pen.
It looks like Hill and Pomeranz will be the go-to southpaws to open the season. MacKenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers seem likely to begin the year in the minors as they continue to develop – and either could be an answer in the case of Pomeranz (or any other lefty) going down.
So while there’s (reportedly) nothing to worry about right now, it’s very clear. San Diego is on the brink when it comes to left-handed relief depth and it could very well end up being an area AJ Preller focuses on ahead of the trade deadline this summer.