Where have you gone, Ricky Romero? The Toronto Blue Jays optioned left-hander Ricky Romero to Class A Dunedin yesterday evening. Class A, folks. That’s the Florida league for those of you keeping score.
Could anyone have predicted this two seasons ago?
One season ago?
Romero went from being the club’s Opening Day starter in 2012 to not making 25-man roster in 2013. The Blue Jays opened camp by saying Romero was essentially guaranteed a spot in the rotation. He no longer had the weight of being an ace on his shoulder. He was pressure-free and was set to thrive.
That message began to change…quickly.
“We saw a lot of good things and he was fine, but it’s not the Ricky we know he can be,” General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said to MLB.com. “We can try to just keep going, and when you’re at the big league level, it’s hard to continue working on things, or take a little more time, get him back to where he can be.” Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com and of the blog, “North of the Boarder”, reported that Romero was unavailable for comment. “It’s always a tough conversation, but he knows he’s not exactly as sharp as he needs to be, and he knows it’s going to take a little bit more time,” Anthopoulous continued.
How did Toronto’s most valuable pitchers since 2009 collapse so quickly? He had become the Blue Jays’ No. 1 starter. Following the departure of Shaun Marcum, Romero had a 15-11 record and a 2.92 ERA and he was an All-Star.
Yes, things started to unravel a bit in 2012. Romero began the year with an 8-1 record, but he had a 4.34 ERA and 46 walks in 95 1/3 innings. That wouldn’t instill confidence in the best of General Managers. Chisholm reports Romero battled control issues along with “a seeming lack of confidence on the mound.” He also was also dealing with documented tendinitis in both of his knees. Romero went 1-13 the rest of the way with a 7.35 ERA.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t until apparently this spring that the club finally noticed “a flaw” in Romero’s pitching. He was no longer maintaining a straight line to the plate, as reported by Chisholm. Romero had a 6.23 ERA this spring.
“You talk about direction and lines to the plate, it’s basically your balance going to home plate and where your front foot lands. It sounds easy, but it just takes time when you start repeating it,” said Anthopoulos to MLB.com “He has done this before, he just has a tendency to do it. It’s one thing if you’re just not getting results and you just have to continue to pitch and get out of it. We have a plan for him. We know what we need to address. It’s just not coming as fast as we wanted it to come,” Anthopoulos continued.
The Blue Jays knew what was going on last year. They just finally have the pitching staff to make up the difference by cutting Romero.
This is not a death sentence to Romero though. The club took the same approach with Roy Halladay back in 2001. Halladay went on to establish himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. Chisholm reports that Halladay had “a complete overhaul of his mechanics”, whereas Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays have continually described Romero’s changes as “minor.”