In his latest, epic Bullpen post over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin gives us a little bit of a teasing, offering a mini-mail bag in order to tide us all over until he posts a brand-spanking-new full-on one later in the week, and since I’m constantly on the lookout for something to keep me from working more on a majorly depressing year-in-review post that I’ve decided, for some reason, is necessary, let’s get to the hijacking!
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
I am reviewing a psychology article called The Perils of Perfection in Sports. I keep thinking of Ricky Romero. He was like Atlas with the world on his shoulders this season. I remember when one of the starters (?) was injured, Romero volunteered to start the next game when he had pitched the day before. Richard, do you think that since he was considered the Jay’s “ace-starter” that he put too much on his own shoulders? Or could he have felt pressure from the coaches or fans? I think the shoes that he had to fill were too big for him to mentally handle this year. Your thoughts?
Susan Roberts, Sarnia
While I think it would be entirely foolish to understate the mental aspects of the game that contributed to Romero’s poor performance this season, there seems to be a tendency to do the opposite and dramatically overstate that element.
I suspect that tendency comes from a bit of an inflated belief in Romero’s true ability, especially after a 2011 in which he wildly out-pitched his advanced, fielding-independent numbers– a 2.92 ERA, but a 4.20 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 4.12 tERA and 3.78 SIERA– and managed to have a top 10 strand rate in all of baseball.
Compared to that guy– compared to a guy people actually thought was better than Brandon Morrow– this season’s Romero looks like a total, unmitigated fucking catastrophe. The reality is probably a little more muted– just a very bad year for a pitcher who perhaps surprisingly appeared to have conquered his problems with the walk, which famously plagued him during his minor league days.
And sure, some of the issues with command are probably mental, but there are unquestionably other factors as well.