With Tanner Roark headed to Cincinnati, the Washington Nationals have another opening in the rotation. Drew Pomeranz would fill that need perfectly.
The Washington Nationals are still on the hunt for starting pitching this offseason. Despite a down year in 2018, Drew Pomeranz could be a great fit as the Nats are hoping for a bargain in free agency.
As soon as news leaked that Tanner Roark was headed to the Cincinnati Reds, most Nationals fans were probably thinking the same thing. What’s the next move? A team lacking in rotation depth can’t simply deal their fourth starter without another starter coming in.
Since then, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has reported that the Nationals have kicked around Anibal Sanchez as a potential replacement. The team has also reportedly discussed Wade Miley as another possible bargain basement starter for the team.
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Neither of those names should get anybody too excited. Sanchez, who will be 35 heading into next season, and Miley, who will be 32, have each had solid Major League seasons, but are tough to rely on moving forward.
Therefore, if the Nationals are strictly looking at the free agent pitching market and want to take a chance on somebody who could turn in a solid year, Mike Rizzo should look no further than Drew Pomeranz.
Pomeranz had a rough, injury-plagued 2018 season where he turned in a 6.08 ERA through 74 innings. However, back in 2016, he went 11-12 with a 3.32 ERA in 170 2/3 innings and followed it up with a 2017 season where he went 17-6 with an identical 3.32 ERA in 173 innings.
The left-hander’s main issue throughout his career has been staying on the field. But when he is healthy, Pomeranz would add another quality starter to the Nationals rotation behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin.
An added bonus to Pomeranz is that he’s another lefty. That would give the Nationals a nice balance of lefties and righties in their rotation, where you may even make Joe Ross or Erick Fedde your fourth starter to break up Corbin and Pomeranz.
When you dig a little deeper on Pomeranz, his career splits show that he’s had success against both the Dodgers and Cubs, posting a 3.48 ERA in 33 2/3 innings against the Dodgers and going 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings against the Cubs. Both of those teams figure to be among the top in the NL, so adding a pitcher who has had success against both is never a bad idea.
Aside from having success against those two clubs, the NL East as a whole struggled against left-handed pitching last year, with the Braves going 21-26, the Mets going 18-24 and the Marlins going 12-26. In fact, the Phillies were the only National League East team to turn in a winning record against lefties, going 21-16. Adding another left-handed starter to the rotation could turn out to be a huge benefit to the Nationals considering they play divisional opponents 76 times per season.
As far as price, Pomeranz will likely cost well below the $10 million that Roark is expected to receive. Jon Heyman predicted that he would land a one-year, $6 million contract. It’s tough to see Pomeranz getting a guaranteed $6 million coming off the year he had in 2018, so $4.5 million with incentives for innings pitched and/or games started sounds a little more realistic.
Drew Pomeranz may provide the most upside of any starter left on the market not named Dallas Keuchel. That alone should make the Nationals think long and hard about signing the left-hander.