The former “Ace” of the Toronto Blue Jays is struggling beyond what anyone could imagine.
On Monday-Ricky Romero’s fourth Triple A start-against the Durham Bulls, he went 2/3 of an inning surrendering eight runs on five hits. He walked three and didn’t strikeout a batter.
Overall, Romero has a 13.85 ERA in Buffalo. He has given up 20 earned runs in 13 innings, struck out three and walked a staggering 20 batters.
Romero’s struggles were evident even before the All-Star break last year. Despite an 8-2 record his ERA was over 5.00 and his control issues became very apparent.
In the second half of last season, a time when Romero was in the midst of a 13 game losing streak, all the signs pointed to a pitcher that had serious problems. Mechanical or not, there was an obvious disconnect.
After the season Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reported on Romero’s elbow and knee surgeries. Was that the cause of this? Was he hiding injuries and overcompensating on the mound? Whatever the case may be, this is not the Ricky Romero that helped lead Cal State Fullerton to the NCAA World Series title in 2004. This is not the kid with “swag” that was in the top 10 in AL Cy Young voting in 2011. Romero is now a guy in the minors trying to make it from inning to inning without imploding.
Of course, this is not the first instance of a pitcher completely losing his ability to throw strikes. Rick Ankiel is the most recent pitcher in memory to have a breakdown this severe.
Ankiel was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, but once in the playoffs suffered through two of the most agonizing appearances you could ever imagine; 11 walks in four innings and countless wild pitches to the backstop. Fortunately for Ankiel, he could hit the ball pretty good. Given the opportunity to change it up and become a hitter, Ankiel embraced the change and has become a functional utility player that once hit 25 home runs in 2008.
Adam Loewen, one of the highest drafted Canadians ever, was as a pitcher coming out of the draft. Injuries forced him from the mound to the batter’s box and now he’s working his way through the minors as an outfielder. Romero has never been known for his batting skills and is unlikely to go that route.
Pitching is Romero’s bread and butter, and it’s completely foreign at the moment. No one can understand what he is going through right now except him and him alone.
Once at the top of his game, he’s now a shell of his former self. The act of pitching, once so natural, has become a disease with no cure.
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM’s Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow The GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.