Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh Ricky, You're So Fine


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
I can't say with 100 percent certainty that I've always been a cheerleader for Ricky Romero. When Roy Halladay left, Romero was arguably the ace waiting in the wings looking to make this squad "his team".

Ricky has flashed moments of greatness during his tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays, but I've felt that he's lacked that certain je ne sais quoi that belongs to the league's best starting pitchers. Now, it seems like Ricky Romero is finally getting there.

At the beginning of the year, if you matched up Ricky Romero versus Brandon Morrow as your number one starter going forward, I probably would've thrown my hat into the ring for Morrow. The sheer power of Brandon Morrow's arm was enough to convince me.

However, Ricky Romero is beginning to sway my vote to the other side of the scale. Not that I'm down in Brandon Morrow, but the way Romero has pitching as of late and his ability to go deep into games has been a huge plus (is that something Gregg Zaun would say word for word?).

One thing that's been sorely lacking on this pitching staff has been the lack of innings pitched by the  starters. The Blue Jays rank third last in innings pitched by starters (391.2 total) and second last in starters ERA (4.64).

Ricky Romero seems to be turning that tide though as he's pitched seven-plus innings in his past seven starts. That's the sign of a workhorse in the making, and something the Blue Jays sorely need every five days.

What was very promising about Romero's performance last night was that all of 8 his swinging strikeouts were via either curveball or changeup. In that aspect, it's like Romero is the antithesis of Brandon Morrow; no "blow it by them" fastball, but a great repertoire of offspeed pitches.

Having a pitcher with a mid-90's fastball is much sexier than a guy who just lobs it in there in the mid-80's with off-speed stuff, but I'm starting to warm up to the idea that making an opponent look silly on a changeup is just as gratifying as blowing a heater right by them.

I guess what I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is that Ricky Romero is solidifying himself as the number one starter on the Blue Jays pitching staff. Pound for pound, Brandon Morrow may have the better stuff, but if you can't locate your pitches, you're dead in the water.

What Ricky Romero has been able to display lately is he can control the game rather than let the game control him. He didn't get the complete game victory last night, but he held reins for about 90% of that game.

Ricky Romero still has a ways to go to be regarded as a true bona fide "ace", but after last night's performance, he's well on his way to becoming one.

4 comments:

  1. what i love about RR is that he has an attitude of 'i love the pressure....bring it on!' he has learned to harness the pressures of being a major league pitcher into something positive. we can only hope that he can teach some of the younger pitchers (drabek, for example) how to use their intensity productively. the more i read about RR, the most i like him!

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  2. Julie, I really like how Romero is the consummate competitor. Looks like he will develop into a great leader for this staff, and hopefully the rest of the guys will follow suit.

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  3. Agree to all of the above.

    I'd also like to add that if you gave Drabek a Romero emotion-control transplant, (like a Vulcan attitude implant) you'd have yet another potential Cy Young contender.

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  4. Peckin, agreed - I think it was combination of Drabek's wildness and temperament that probably got him sent down. Perhaps if he "pitched like a man", Drabek would still be around. But heck, he's still very young and I can't really fault him for acting like a young person when he still is one.

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