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What’s going on with Ricky Romero and his 5.75 ERA?

Jul 26, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero blows a gum balloon during practice at their spring training facility in Dunedin

Ricky Romero showed a steady progression in his first three seasons, as his ERA went from 4.30 to 3.73 to 2.92 with similar improvements in walk rate and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He emerged as a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Blue Jays last season, making his first All-Star team at age 26 and throwing 225 innings with a 2.92 ERA. And now he can’t get anyone out.

Romero failed to make it out of the second inning last night against the A’s, walking six batters and coughing up eight runs as his ERA ballooned to 5.75. It was the fourth time in his last six starts that Romero has allowed six-plus runs and in his last dozen starts he’s allowed 59 runs in 64 innings with nearly as many walks (38) as strikeouts (43).

His strikeouts are down and his walks are up, although Romero’s average fastball velocity of 91.1 miles per hour is pretty close to his career mark of 91.5 mph. Despite that similar velocity batters have teed off on his fastball, with Fan Graphs showing the pitch being worth 12.5 runs below average compared to 15.5 runs above average during the previous two seasons. And that negative mark for this year doesn’t even include last night’s clobbering.

I’m not smart enough to explain why, but Romero’s fastball is getting knocked around this year after previously being an excellent pitch and suddenly the young left-hander the Blue Jays thought would be atop their rotation for years to come thanks to a $30 million contract extension is a complete mess.

  1. townballblog - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    I’ve been really surprised about this too. He’s such a good, young pitcher and all of a sudden he’s just been getting destroyed. All the more surprising is that John Farrell, a former pitching coach, is his manager and they still can’t figure it out.

    I say that because I don’t think it has something to do with his stuff – As Aaron mentioned, it seems to be pretty good. Maybe mechanical or he’s tipping his pitches?

  2. deathmonkey41 - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Amazingly enough, it has not knocked the perpetual arrogant smirk off his face.

  3. geoknows - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    I think the man in the white shirt must have something to do with this.

    • missthemexpos - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Bad news for the Jays if the man in the white shirt is working for the opposition. I think Ricky needs to shake things up, like maybe putting in a little curvature to the peak of his cap.

      • jaysjunkie - Jul 26, 2012 at 6:48 PM

        “like maybe putting in a little curvature to the peak of his cap”…amen, brother. Flat brims look horrible.

  4. Francisco (FC) - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    What about movement? His fastball may still be fast but if all it’s doing is going straight that’s not going to fool hitters.

    • missthemexpos - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Absolutely correct, batters are no longer fooled by his off speed pitches, and it has now become open season on a fastball that is coming in with less movement than Bud Selig’s position on instant replay.

    • cur68 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      There it is. Thing’s a ruler. It used to catch enough plate to get a strike, now it doesn’t. When it does, it gets tattooed. Curve used to be a strike all the time, now its not. When it is, it gets tattooed. He’s tipping his pitches occasionally, too. Changing his arm slot for the curve and his arm speed for all breaking pitches. Walks a ton of guys. He needs to get back to AAA and work this out. Maybe learn a knuckle ball, too.

  5. proudlycanadian - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    His confidence is totally shaken. Early in the season, he was winning, but was not pitching well and knew it. He has been through this before. After being a high draft pick, he pitched poorly in his early years in the minors. Eventually, his pitching coach had him revamp his delivery and he had success in the majors. He probably needs time out in order to retool himself.

  6. mydadyourmom - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    it’s between his ears. his pitches look either extremely wild or extremely hittable. time for a mystery injury and a trip to the DL.

  7. jaysfan64 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    I agree – his delivery has changed..I can’t tell firsthand whether he’s tipping pitches or not but the hitters sure can..he’s saying that this feels similar to the issues he went through in his first few pro seasons… the best thing would be for him to go to AA (not Vegas – his confidence is shot as is) and get straightened out away from the pressure…there’s some similarity here to Cliff Lee’s situation a few seasons ago…but for the Jays’ brain trust to just keep running him out there every 5 days just isn’t working and could ruin him – they have to do something..watching him being interviewed last night was almost painful…I genuinely felt bad for him..

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