Is Ricky Romero One of Two Jays Aces?

At the beginning of the 2010 season, all analysts were focused on the fact that the Jays had no “true ace” on the staff and believed that it meant they would wind up in the basement of the AL East. Well, now that we’ve reached mid-May and witnessed what we have, I think we call all say that this is not the case. The Jays have received ace level performances from both Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero all season long, minus the odd hiccup. The latest impressive game for Romero was yesterday’s game with the following line:

9 IP-CG/ 5 hits/ 1 BB/ 12 Ks/ 81 of 116 pitches for strikes (70%)/ 7 ground outs/ 7 fly outs

The outing lowered his ERA to 2.88 on the season. Let’s compare the 2009 season Roy Halladay had with this season’s Ricky Romero:

Roy Halladay 2009 to May 12th: 7-1/ 1 CG/ 8 GP/ 61 IP/ 56 HA/ 20 ER/ 7 BB/ 49 Ks/ 2.95 ERA/ 1.03 Whip

Ricky Romero 2010 to May 15th: 4-1/ 1 CG/ 8 GP/ 56.1 IP/ 43 HA/ 18 ER/ 21 BB/ 59 Ks/ 2.88 ERA/ 1.14 Whip

The first thing you notice is that despite pitching 5 innings less overall, Ricky has 10 Ks more than Halladay through the same point, but also has 14 more walks. Although it indicates that Ricky is walking too many guys, it also shows that he can get out of trouble when needed with a K. The lines are so eerily similar that it’s no wonder the Jays have not missed a step in competing up to this point in 2010, as they had in 2009 as well. Ricky’s stuff seems to be less hittable than Doc’s to this point with 13 fewer hits allowed, and his ERA has benefited as a result, despite giving up more walks. Also of note is that Ricky is only 25 years old and will turn 26 in November, while Doc was 31 when he accomplished his line above and was much more seasoned as a result. Does that mean that Ricky’s best stuff is yet to come? I believe it does. So long as Ricky remains healthy, I see no reason to not put the Ace stamp on his repertoire and to compare him with the best pitchers in MLB at this time. He’s young, has shown poise, and has shown he can dominate the best lineups in the league.

On to Shaun Marcum, who has a much different approach to pitching than Ricky or Roy Halladay. He also has 8 starts to his credit thus far and compares to Doc’s 2009 numbers as follows:

Roy Halladay 2009 to May 12th: 7-1/ 1 CG/ 8 GP/ 61 IP/ 56 HA/ 20 ER/ 7 BB/ 49 Ks/ 2.95 ERA/ 1.03 Whip

Shaun Marcum 2010 to May 15th: 2-1/ 8 GP/ 55 IP/ 41 HA/ 17 ER/ 12 BB/ 42 Ks/ 2.78 ERA/ 0.96 Whip

While Ricky Romero helped ease the loss of the Jays by replacing him with very similar results, Shaun Marcum has added to the rotation in such a way that makes the 2010 edition much better than the 2009 edition. In 2009, the Jays were constantly crossing their fingers in the hopes that someone, anyone, would come through and provide a #2 type performance. Well, Shaun has done that and much more. His numbers above indicate Ace like stuff and his ridiculously low Whip is the best indication. He is extremely efficient in his outing going 7 innings at a minimum for 6 of 8 of his starts and 6 innings strong the other 2 times.

With these two guys at the top of the rotation, the Jays have a duo that beats the AJ Burnett and Roy Halladay duos of years past. They also have more support behind them with up-and-coming youngsters Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch on his way back to health while on rehab assignment along with Marc Rzepczynski, and Dana Eveland who has provided some good starts at the back of the rotation. When you consider that Shaun is the oldest at 28 years old and that the Jays also have Kyle Drabek and Zach Stewart sharpening their skills in the higher depths of the minors, you begin to see a picture that points to a competitive club for years to come. There are very few teams in MLB who can claim to have 2 Ace like performers on their club, and I believe the Jays can easily make that claim thus far in 2010.

I love what I’m seeing from the rotation, and the fact that it’s bound to get better over the season as health and maturity take hold makes me anxious to see what’s next!

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Tags: Brandon Morrow Brett Cecil Dana Eveland Jesse Litsch Kyle Drabek Ricky Romero Shaun Marcum Zach Stewart

  • Keith

    Hey Mat,

    Once again you are right on the mark! Both Ricky and Shawn have performed above my expectations for them to this point in the year. They are truly aces. It should not go unnoticed that the first one out of the dugout to congratulate Ricky yesterday was Shawn. I think the chemistry and competitiveness of this pitching staff is a big part of the results we have seen.
    To the doubters, I understand that there will be some tough starts to come as we go through the year. But this is just part of the maturing process (Did Roy not get beaten up pretty good in his first couple of seasons).
    Given that Shawn is the oldest at 28 and still controllable by the club for another 3 years and the rise of our minors league depth, you have to like the Jays chances in the next couple of years.

  • Xalvion


    I was really hoping this wouldn’t happen. At the beginning of this season, I thought to myself, “You know, there’s nothing wrong with this pitching staff. Maybe we don’t have a bonafide #1, but we’ve got a whole stable of #2- and #3-type starters. Nothing wrong with that, just so long as the media don’t go trying to attach the ‘ace’ tag to one of these guys, placing undue pressure on him to perform.”

    And now, you’ve done it. Don’t get me wrong. Everything you’ve stated in your article is 100% true. But the idea was to be **quiet** about it, so none of these guys realized how well they were pitching individually and started gripping the ball too tightly.

    If this staff now falls apart due to the artificial pressure generated by this article, it’s on your head!

  • Mat Germain

    Love it Xalvion! I’ve also subscribed to that theory in the past, but I did have some information to go on when I wrote this article. I had just listened to Ricky Romero talk with MLB Radio guys about how he’s embracing the pressure and it’s actually helping him perform. In other words, until a pitcher can face up to the fact that he is an ace, he can’t be an ace. So, as a fan as well as media, it’s either you put that pressure on him and hope he comes through or don’t and he never becomes an ace. What’s he going to do if he actually gets the Jays into the playoffs at some point and doesn’t believe he’s an ace? Lose game 1 or 2, that’s what.

    I abide by the calling a spade a spade theory and I appreciate the fact you agree with the assessment! Hopefully both can keep it up because that stable of #2 and #3s you spoke of are getting healthier and healthier, which makes things really interesting as we head towards June and the Draft! What a great time to be a Jays fan! Lots of wins, lots of stories, lots of draft picks coming up, and a ton of prospects to watch grow!

    • Xalvion

      Your point is valid, but there’s also such a thing as “too much, too soon”. This is only Romero’s second year. I love the fact that he’s accepting of the pressure, but sometimes kids will bite off more than they can chew, simply because they think they’re bullet-proof. It’s not how you handle success that matters but how you handle adversity.

      I hope you’re right about him.

      Now, Marcum, on the other hand, I’m not so worried about. He’s not a kid anymore and he’s been through the grinder already with his recovery from arm problems. The guy flat-out knows how to pitch. He’ll never blow anyone away with his fastball, but clearly understands that old saw about “hitting is timing, and pitching is disrupting timing”. I’ve always seen the potential for greatness in him.

      Here’s hoping we get to see the reality.

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