Whatever it is that was wrong with Ricky Romero back in May has only gotten progressively worse since, and the Toronto Blue Jays might need to start coming up with a plan other than to put the embattled lefty out there every 5 days.
That might have been the plan if this was just an isolated occurrance, but last night’s meltdown from Romero – 1.1 IP, 4 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 1 K – follows a string of poor performances, with quality starts few and far in-between. Over his last 16 outings, Romero has gone over the 6 inning mark 3 times, and has allowed 4 or more earth runs in 10 of those turns. He hasn’t thrown a game without a walk this season yet – not that control was ever his best asset, but the walk rates have been well above his career norms at this rate. Compounding his struggles, Romero’s strikeout rate has been in decline all season as well – 1.32 K/BB in May, 1.00 in June, 0.94 in July – with batters teeing off on his offerings – .225 BAA in May, .302 in June, .349 in July. Not that wins and losses really mean too much, but Romero’s loss last night makes him the first Blue Jays pitcher to lose 6 starts in a row since…Josh Towers. That’s not a comparison you want to be making for a guy who is supposed to be in the top-end of the team’s rotation.
No doubt, there’s been some bad luck mixed in there somewhere, but more often than not (much like last night), Romero has simply worked himself into messes than he hasn’t been able to get out of. Walking 6 batters in any start is not a good thing to begin with; doing it in 1+ innings suggests a loss of control. His 10.48 / 2.33 ERA / WHIP over the last 30 days is the worst Ricky Romero we’ve seen since his arrival to the big leagues, so what’s the plan to get him back on track? Take him out of the rotation? Or something even more drastic, like a temporary demotion to AAA?
“Nothing conclusive” just yet, according to Blue Jays manager John Farrell. As reported by the National Star’s John Lott, the team is still figuring out what it is that they might want to do with the Blue Jays #1 pitcher coming into the season, and while there are a number of options, including a break from his next turn, or a trip down to Las Vegas – something that Farrell says is “premature”, the current plan is for Romero to make his next scheduled start against the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
That being said, I’d imagine those plans are pretty fluid at this point, and it would not be a surprise to see another starter taking the mound on Monday, even if it’s just to give Romero a one-turn break. As much as the Blue Jays needs starting pitching right now, running Romero out there to be hammered isn’t helping any. Should he make the start, though (as Farrell has suggested), another poor outing might just give the team no choice but to do something about it.