On most days around this time, I’d be tossing up an Afternoon Snack post, but let’s be honest, right now there are really only two things in the Jays-a-verse worth discussing, and everybody’s already talking about them: Ricky Romero’s continuing struggles, and the talk Alex Anthopoulos gave to assembled reporters before last night’s game. So I’ll focus in on those, beginning with what we all saw take place last night…
As we all can see from the picture above– and the GIFs in Archi’s Post Game Graph– there is more to the story of last night that merely what I call “Ricky Romero’s continuing struggles,” as his eye-rolling, petulant reaction to being pulled from the game may have sent other managers *COUGH* John Gibbons *COUGH* into a frothing, punch-throwing rage.
The look of disbelief on Farrell’s face says it all, doesn’t it? Sure, maybe it’s a bit too much to ask a pitcher who so badly wants the ball to fully process what was going on in the heat of the moment– that his manager was trying to spare him, and trying to take him out proactively at a point where, once the dust had settled, he’d be able to look back on the game in about as positive a light as possible– but… seriously, Ricky?
Yes, Farrell showed quite a lack of faith, and I guess you could maybe argue he could have kept him in there, but given how the pitcher’s season has gone, the manager sure as shit is a long way from being the one who’s most out of line here.
As is usually the case when he weighs in on a topic, at the Mockingbird Jon Hale provides easily the best analysis out there, starting out by pulling the covers off of the conventional wisdom, asserting, “I don’t get why everyone is stuck on the narrative of Ricky Romero having some kind of mental issue involving his command.”
“Maybe Romero is trying to pick out the corners and/or overthrow because he is completely correct that he gets hit hard when he catches too much of the plate,” he writes (emphasis mine). “And on that subject, there’s an elephant in the room — namely Romero’s AWOL changeup.”
Among his most interesting bits of analysis, Hale notes that there has been an additional two to three inches of downward movement on Romero’s changeup this season, and suggests that “one plausible explanation is that Ricky managed to improve his changeup movement to the point where it is very nasty, but not as enticing to swing at, and the league has adjusted to just lay off it at all costs.”
And in Romero’s recent good start in New York– one we’ll later see that Alex Anthopoulos lauded in his lengthy scrum– Hale says that the changeup didn’t have nearly the same downward bite as most of this season, and the Yankee hitters were more inclined to swing at it– which in turn made Romero throw it more. Hmmm.
Others talking about Romero today include Mike Wilner, who recaps what happened, writing for Sportsnet that “to hear [Romero] speak in post-game interviews, it would appear that Ricky is just as much out of answers as everyone else, but surely he has to understand that this wasn’t an unfair or early hook from Farrell.”
The game story from Eric Koreen of the National Post speaks to that, as he quotes Romero as explaining that “I know [the manager] has confidence in me and he wants me to get out of this as bad as anyone. I’m sure, speaking for him, he wouldn’t want to see me fail out there, which I appreciate.
Mike Rutsey examines the performance last night for the Toronto Sun, in a post that includes a poll showing users are split on whether Romero will ever regain his form.
“Even if Romero theoretically posted three solid starts to end the season, would that be enough to silence the doubts about him moving forward?” asks the Blue Jay Hunter– a question that I’m sure Alex Anthopoulos, who continues to use Brandon Morrow’s 2011 season as evidence that a quick turnaround can happen, would answer yes. Or… OK, maybe not silence, but it would sure make things feel a whole lot better.
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi writes that “In the coming days Ricky Romero and the Toronto Blue Jays will return to the drawing board, wipe it clean yet again, and try once more to come up with a plan to rescue the left-hander from his season of woe.”
“The problem,” he says, “is there’s not much left that they haven’t tried already.” [Note: How about throwing a less sharp changeup, for starters!]
Davidi also points to the fatigue angle, which was behind the club’s decision to give Romero so much rest between last night’s start and his previous disasterpiece.
“Though he’s only 27,” Davidi writes, “he’s the same age Roy Halladay was in 2004, when his stuff wasn’t as sharp and his season was eventually cut short by right shoulder problems. No surgery was needed, but Halladay’s entire routine was adjusted because he was simply running himself too ragged.”
As I noted in yesterday’s Afternoon Snack, Romero has faced the 10th most batters in all of baseball since 2010, and is in the top 25 in pitches thrown. So, the fatigue stuff isn’t just some convenient excuse, it’s just… it means we probably can’t know for sure who the hell Romero is until we see him on a mound again next spring.
For a club so thin on pitching already, with so much work to do this winter to fix it, that really fucking sucks. But it’s not like you can sell him this winter for pennies on the dollar. So… what the hell else can you do but keep rolling him out there and hoping for the best? I guess just… maybe try to pick up some Aaron Laffeys who can cover for him if things go south. Because this off-season wasn’t going to be busy enough on the pitching front, right? Ugh.
Image via @james_in_to.