Oh, Ricky Romero. The Toronto Blue Jays just can’t quit you.
Well, at least not the $15 million still owed to him, anyway. The saga of the bluebirds’ former ace could easily rival that of (think of your favourite roller coaster here), and with the team still having some faint hopes that he could return to be a productive starter as he’d been all those year prior to 2012, the ride isn’t coming to an end anytime soon.
But can he at least end the 2013 portion of it on the up?
That’s as much as the team can hope for at this point, and while his time in the minors has been a “one step forward, two (or three, or four …) steps back” story for the majority of his outings, his recent turns may actually provide an inkling of hope that those steps forward might just be come with a longer stride these days.
Yes, it’s going to sound weird to say considering that he’s allowed no less than four earned runs in four of his last five outings with triple-A Buffalo, but let’s do a little exercise in finding a silver lining here, yes?
For one, he has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his last four starts (including consecutive seven-inning starts), a streak that has only been matched one other time this season by the lefty. Considering that early implosions have been kind of Romero’s thing this year, that he’s at least finding some consistency (even if the results aren’t great) shouldn’t be understated.
There’s also the fact that his stuff might actually be pretty decent these days. With 24 strikeouts in his last 25.2 innings, Romero’s 8.57 K/9 is significantly up from the 6.63 he stills owns overall. Yeah, he’s still getting hit pretty hard from time to time, but he has only allowed two home runs in his last four starts, so …
Oh, and you didn’t think we’d be talking about Romero without talking about the walks, right?
Of course not, and here’s where you get to the good news vs. bad news part. The good news is that he’s walked two or fewer batters in each of his last four turns, and a 2.4 K/BB over that SSS span is just around his career standard during his 2011 All-Star season (2.23).
The bad news? Well, he did walk a whopping six batters in his latest outing.
Put all that together with the fact that these numbers come from minor leagues, and I think it’s fair to say that there’s a lot of work to be done here. Still, there are signs that some headway is being made, and the career of the artist formerly known as the Toronto Blue Jays ace may not be quite as lifeless as first thought.
That, or maybe it’s just taking the optimistic route a little too far; but at this point, how much harm could a little hope do?