Pomeranz bounces back brilliantly for Padres

Pomeranz bounces back brilliantly for Padres

SAN DIEGO -- After throwing seven shutout innings and allowing two hits against the Rockies Friday night, Padres starter Drew Pomeranz showed that his previous outing against Arizona was an outlier, and also that he remains one of the best pitchers in baseball this season.

After leading San Diego to a 4-0 win over Colorado, Pomeranz joined Jake Arrieta as the only other pitcher with five starts in which he allowed no earned runs. Opposing batters are hitting just .163 against Pomeranz this season -- the second-best mark in baseball, behind Arrieta (.161).

'I was trying to go out there and attack these guys," Pomeranz said. "Mix it up, throw strikes and stay in good counts. And it worked out pretty well."

While much of Pomeranz's success this season can be attributed his curveball -- which was responsible for five whiffs and four strikeouts in this game alone -- a developing cutter was also key Friday night.

"I actually thought his cutter was as good as it's been," said manager Andy Green. 'He had a number of punchouts with his cutter today. I think the first couple innings in the game in Arizona, where he scuffled a little bit, he got away from his cutter entirely. Later in that game [he] reintroduced it and it was much more effective.

'So that's a pitch that probably goes unnoticed because his curveball's so good."

In some regards, the pitch literally goes unnoticed. Pitch-f/x classifies the cutter as a changeup, but the pitch helped Pomeranz finish off two of his eight strikeouts and generate whiffs 13 percent of the time -- a similar whiff rate as his curve Friday.

"I just really started throwing [the cutter] like the last two or three games," Pomeranz said. "It's kind of a pitch that you're always working on. It's never a finished product, so you can always improve a little bit on it."

Watching how often batters swing and miss on both the cutter and curve make it easier to understand how Pomeranz is striking out 10.66 batters per nine innings this season, which is the best mark he's ever managed at the Major League level.

After lowering his ERA to 2.22 on the season, Pomeranz will continue to refine and hone his new cutter, while also working deeper into games. This is just the third time in 11 starts this year that Pomeranz has thrown seven full frames.

"That's kind of a next step for me," he said. "I always say I don't want to go five to seven innings every time. I want to break through that and go on to get into those later innings."

Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.