Drew Pomeranz’s move into relief work has strengthened the pen
The move of Drew Pomeranz from the starting rotation has been good for Pomeranz, who has a 1.15 ERA in 17 games since coming off the disabled list June 3.
It’s also been good for the A’s, who have had something of a miserable time watching their relievers, until lately. Since June 20, the relievers have a combined ERA of 1.96 thanks in large part to the left-handed Pomeranz, who hasn’t allowed a run in eight games (nine innings) over that span.
More than that, Pomeranz’s ability to warm up in a hurry, face right-handed hitters and throw multiple innings has given manager Bob Melvin options he didn’t have when Pomeranz was in the starting rotation.
“He’s really been the stabilizing force that allows us to get to (closer Tyler) Clippard,’’ Melvin said. “We’ve had bits of success with other guys, but when you have a lefty down there that can neutralize power left-handed bat and he’s a starter who is used to seeing seven or eight righties in the lineup, you’re confident you’re going to get your matchup with him.
“He can give you more than one inning, not that want to do that too often because you might not have him three days in a row. But here recently, when you look at our bullpen numbers, he’s been the key reason for is.’’
Melvin didn’t know if Pomeranz would be available for Wednesday’s game.
–The A’s starting rotation has the best overall ERA in the American League at 3.01 with the starters allowing one or zero runs in five of the last eight games and 21 of the last 42 games.
The only real downside to that his starters are racking up lots of innings. Given that, Melvin is looking forward to being able to give every one of his starters a minimum of four days off at the All-Star break.
Even All-Star starter Sonny Gray will get that time off, because he’s pitching on Sunday in Cleveland, and that mean he won’t be pitching during the All-Star Game itself.
As a group, the A’s starters are averaging 6.1 innings per start.
“Any time you have the consistency that we’ve had out of our starters, good health means they’re out there and good performance means they’re out there for a while. The All-Star break will help.’’
As part of that, Jesse Hahn is being pushed back in the rotation to Saturday to give him and extra three days off. He has been dealing with some elbow tightness, but a bullpen session Wednesday went well.
He’s already pitched 96.2 innings this season and is on pace for 193.1 innings after he pitched just 116.2 innings combined between the majors and minors last year.
–With Cleveland just 250 miles from the site of the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, the A’s and Indians are combining to get their All-Stars to the game after Oakland and Cleveland finish up a series Sunday in Cleveland. The idea is to rent a luxury party bus and have the A’s Sonny Gray and Stephen Vogt and the Indians’ Jason Kipnis and their families make the drive as a group.
–The A’s got newly promoted outfielder Jake Smolinski in Wednesday’s lineup in right field. That means that the only left-handed bat in the Oakland lineup against Yankees’ lefty C.C. Sabathia belonged to Stephen Vogt, who was playing first base. Vogt is hitting .270 with a .349 on-base percentage against lefties this year while his career numbers against southpaws are just .241 and .304
–Lefty closer Sean Doolittle’s first test of his left shoulder went well, Melvin reported. Doolittle, out with a strained left shoulder, was only playing catch, but he walked away feeling good.
–Disabled right-handed pitcher Taylor Thompson is down to throw 20 pitches’ worth of live batting practice Thursday. Thompson has been out since spring training with a right shoulder strain.
–Rain canceled batting practice for the second straight day for the A’s. What was different Wednesday from Tuesday is that the Yankees’ BP session also was washed out.