Padres left-hander Drew Pomeranz underwent “a cleanup surgery in his elbow” yesterday, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, relaying word from manager Bob Melvin. It’s unknown how long this will keep him out of action but the skipper says they are still hopeful for him to return later in the season.
Although Melvin seems to be trying to downplay the procedure, which might well be minor, it’s notable that the lefty’s health is at the forefront yet again. Pomeranz is creeping up on two years since his last major league appearance, which was in August of 2021. It was at that point that he required surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his throwing arm. He was able to begin a rehab assignment one year after that procedure, heading out in August of last year. However, he was shut down due to continued soreness and missed the entire 2022 campaign.
Here in 2023, the club was optimistic about his return but he experienced more inflammation in Spring Training and began the season on the injured list. He began another rehab assignment in the middle of April but was shut down yet again after three appearances and transferred to the 60-day injured list.
It’s surely been a frustrating series of events for both Pomeranz and the team. After spending many years as a starter with mixed results, the southpaw seemed to thrive in a move to full-time relief work. In 2019, he had a 5.68 ERA with the Giants, working primarily out of the rotation. He was traded at the deadline to the Brewers who used him exclusively as a reliever, apart from one three-inning start. He had a 2.39 ERA with Milwaukee, striking out an incredible 45% of batters faced.
He reached free agency and the Padres took a chance on that bullpen breakout, signing Pomeranz to a four-year deal that guaranteed him $34MM. The gamble seemed to be paying off for a while, as he posted a combined 1.62 ERA between his 20 appearances in the shortened 2020 season and another 27 the year after. He walked 11.4% of batters faced in that time but stuck out 33.7% and also got grounders at a 45.8% rate.
Unfortunately, the latter half of the deal has been entirely wasted thus far, with Pomeranz missing the 2022 season and all of 2023 to this point. The Padres aren’t in desperate shape in terms of left-handed relief, as each of Josh Hader, Tim Hill and Tom Cosgrove are posting decent results to varying degrees. Nonetheless, it would surely be a welcome development if this recent procedure was able to help Pomeranz finally get over his ongoing arm troubles and get back into form. He’s making a salary of $8MM this year and is a free agent at season’s end.