Pomeranz finds motivation facing aces

Padres lefty not intimidated by high-pressure matchups

May 6th, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- Drew Pomeranz isn't taking his foot off the gas. He can't afford to.

The Padres left-hander has been a revelation this season, having posted a 2.48 ERA, with opponents hitting .194 against him. He's also been matched up with an opposing ace practically every time he's taken the hill.

Last week it was Madison Bumgarner. On Sunday, it was Clayton Kershaw. Friday night, he'll get Mets flame-thrower Noah Syndergaard. (Not to mention: Pomeranz was on the hill during Vince Velasquez's 16-strikeout performance in Philadelphia.)

"In my mind, I'm facing the ace, no matter what," Pomeranz said. "I'm trying to give up the least amount of runs possible. It doesn't really change my mindset out there. It is kind of fun though, getting to face some of these No. 1s."

After his most recent start, Pomeranz spoke at length about the Padres' trust in him. He even went so far as to thank skipper Andy Green for letting him pitch so deep into games.

Pomeranz's only prior season as a full-time starting pitcher came in 2012, when the Rockies experimented with a four-man rotation and kept their pitchers on very strict pitch counts.

Perhaps predictably, Pomeranz struggled that season, going 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA. This year, on the other hand, he's been given free rein to pitch deep into games, and he's rewarding the Padres' faith.

"Getting deep into games, as long as I'm efficient, I feel like I do pretty well," Pomeranz said. "Usually when I'm in the game longer, I'm feeling pretty good with all my pitches."

Most recently, Pomeranz tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers on Sunday. That kind of success makes Green more than comfortable trotting the 27-year-old lefty back out there against yet another ace Friday night.

"Obviously, you have to match Kershaw pitch for pitch, and you have to match Syndergaard pitch for pitch," Green said. "But the battle is pitcher-hitter, not pitcher-pitcher. If he finds motivation in the [pitchers' duel], great, let it motivate you. If not, lock into the process."