It says a lot for the state of affairs in Toronto when the eyes of the fan base are turned 2100 kilometers south to Dunedin, FL. That is where left-hander Ricky Romero, he who was bumped from staff ace all the way down to Class-A, makes his first start of the 2013 season, according to Shi Davidi.
Romero will start Saturday night’s game for the D-Jays against Brevard County. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm.
Romero has been working hard on his pitching mechanics in Dunedin, trying to correct an issue in his delivery that prevented him from driving toward the plate. The thought is that stopping Romero from throwing across his body would help him gain better control and keep him from falling behind hitter. The issue was prevalent in Spring Training, where Romero walked 10 hitters and surrendered 17 hits and 11 runs in just 12 innings pitched.
Those spring struggles came on the back of a 2012 season where Romero lead Major League Baseball with 105 walks. If you’re counting at home, that was good for a BB/9 ratio of 5.2.
The Blue Jays ultimately decided to go with J.A. Happ as the team’s fifth starter and optioned Romero to Dunedin to continue working on his refined delivery. Thus far, the results of the transition have been encouraging and the Jays felt it was time to get Romero in front of live hitters.
There does not appear a timetable for Romero to rejoin the Blue Jays, as Anthopoulos looks to give him the time he needs to once again be the Ricky Romero of 2011. However, with the struggles of the pitching staff thus far, and the fact that both R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson are nursing injuries, Anthopoulos may be a bit more eager to see some early returns from Romero.
That said, until we see exactly where Ricky Romero is, both in his performance levels and his mindset, we need to remember that he is a long way from being a part of this season’s Blue Jays squad. Toronto will likely want to see at least 5 starts of consistent mechanics and results before they consider him an option for anything. Until that time comes, the team will continue to monitor Romero from afar and utilize their depth(?) at Triple-A to fill immediate needs.
However, once that time comes – and if you are a Blue Jays fan, you have to hope it does – there will be some tough decisions to be made. His replacement, J.A. Happ, has arguably been Toronto’s most consistent starter in 2013, and one would have to assume that the other four starters (Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and Johnson) start to round back to their previous forms. Where Romero will fit in is likely more dependent on the health situation than it will be on any other factors.
Still, having a healthy, productive Ricky Romero fighting to insert himself into the staff will be a good problem to have. Saturday is just a first step toward creating that issue.
Tony Ambrogio of Sportsnet.CA had a chance to discuss Saturday’s start with Ricky Romero and get a feel for the pither’s mindset coming into that start.