Jays Journal contributors will be authoring Toronto Blue Jays report cards based on how each player performed in 2020. In this edition, we take a look at Jordan Romano.
There’s no doubt the right-handed reliever Jordan Romano came into the 2020 season looking like a brand new pitcher. His 2019 rookie season was nothing special, recording a 7.63 ERA over 15.1 innings.
Needless to say, I don’t think anyone would have guessed how much of an impact he would come to have on the Blue Jays the following season. While 2020 showed an unfortunate shortened baseball year, the surprising improvement of Romano was one of the highlights.
The 27-year-old hailing from Markham, Ont. added some new mannerisms on the mound, which seemed to help his pitching by using some mental techniques. The Ken Giles squat, and talking to himself before throwing seemed to have benefitted him tremendously, allowing Romano to block out negative thoughts, focus on the next pitch and dominate hitters.
Jordan Romano finished the 2020 season with a 1.23 ERA in 14.2 innings. He played almost the same amount of games in his two major league seasons, but with massive differences in performance and numbers. In his first seven appearances of 2020, he alllowed no hits and no runs, often pitching late in games and in high leverage situations.
Even though Romano finished the season on the IL with a middle finger injury, he ended on a high note, recording only eight hits, five walks, two earned runs, 21 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.89 in 15 games.
He also picked up his first save on August 21 against the Rays, earning two overall saves this year. Jordan even set a Blue Jays record for most batters faced to begin a season without allowing a hit, according to Sportsnet Stats.
Romano relied on two pitches in 2020: the four-seam fastball and the slider. His fastball was one of the improvements he made in the offseason to make him so successful this year, averaging 96.5 mph, often throwing 98 mph with only a .050 opponent batting average. Compare this to 2019, when his fastball was averaging only 94.6 mph with a .361 opponent BA.
His teammates noticed his impressive pitching, with shortstop Bo Bichette saying, “He’s a beast, man,” says Bichette to Sportsnet reporter Arden Zwelling. “The way he came to summer camp was unreal. His mentality – you could see it in his eyes. You could see it in the way he went about his business. I think he is going to be good for a long time.”
Romano was a fascinating one to watch this year, pitching in intense one-run games and producing many swings and misses. One of the Jays’ best relievers in 2020, every time he came to the mound he seemed to impress me even more with his development.
I am hoping to see him in more of a permanent closing position in 2021 because I believe he is certainly capable and would succeed in the role. With Ken Giles most likely not an option, the possibility of seeing Jordan Romano as the Jays next closer seems very possible, but we will have to wait until next year to find out.
Overall Grade: A-