It’s been a rocky beginning for the Toronto Blue Jays, and nowhere is it more obvious than in the ranks of the starting pitchers. It’s already an old story how the Blue Jays’ starters have been pounded in the early innings of ballgames. Maybe help is on the way with former staff ace Ricky Romero.
After the acquisition of several starters (R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle), Romero moved down the pecking order. He struggled this spring, and the Jays decided he needed more work. Since they apparently had the depth to do without him, they assigned Romero to extended spring training and then some starts in Class-A Dunedin to work on his form.
What a comedown that had to be for a player who was once considered a shoo-in to get the prestigious assignment of starting on Opening Day. In fact, he’s one of five Jays to start on consecutive Opening Days: the others are hallowed names in Jays history — Jimmy Key, Dave Stieb, Jack Morris and Roy Halladay. Going from that height to the low of being told he has to remake his pitching mechanics couldn’t have been easy for him to take.
Perhaps Romero can take some solace from the fact that he is not the first Jays ace to go to the minors to work on his delivery. In 2000, Halladay was sent down after having epic issues with his delivery: 80 earned runs in only 67 2/3 innings, with 42 walks and 44 strikeouts. He went and worked on making things right: he would go on to have three 20-win seasons.
It happens to the best of players, and it’s up to them to respond as best they can. Romero appears to have turned things around: his first start for Dunedin went well as he allowed a single run in seven innings.
“His ball moves so much, when you have that type of action and life, you’re going to run some deep counts at times,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said in an interview. “When you see him getting ground balls, that’s what allowed him to go so deep into games in the past and rack up 220 innings. If he does walk a guy, he can get two outs with that ground ball. That’s probably the most encouraging sign, getting all those ground balls.”
The Jays are currently 9-17 and second-last in the American League. They have a long road to travel to get back into the race and they don’t have history on their side, either, so it could be a good opportunity for Romero to see if he can help to turn the Jays’ fortunes around.