The Toronto Blue Jays need help in the bullpen. Toronto may not need to look any further than farmhand RHP Jordan Romano
This offseason, the Blue Jays Front Office added several starting pitching options; however, the bullpen remains a work in progress. In the past, Ross Atkins added veteran budget relievers around Spring Training or Spring Training.
For the most part, the results of slow playing the reliever market have been fruitful. The Blue Jays got good results from Seung-Hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Daniel Hudson. Each of these relievers was also traded away for a decent return, helping to add depth to the farm system.
This offseason, the Blue Jays have said good-bye to Justin Shafer, Ryan Tepera, Derek Law, Jason Adams, Brock Stewart, and Buddy Boshers. They have signed A.J. Cole and Justin Miller to minor league deals and claimed Anthony Bass off waivers.
The Blue Jays are expected to carry 13 pitchers (5-SP and 8-RP); therefore, this leaves two or three spots open in the bullpen. Not including potential injuries.
I recently looked at Jackson McClelland (link), Hector Perez (linK), Kirby Snead (link), and Travis Bergen (link) as possible options. Shaun Doyle checked in on Sean Reid-Foley as another option (link). Today, I’d like to offer up another returned 2019 Rule 5 pick.
RHP Jordan Romano
Selected in the 10th round of the 2014 Draft, the Blue Jays drafted Romano out of Oral Roberts as a closer. Injuries slowed Romano’s development as he missed much of 2015 and parts of 2016. Despite these setbacks, the Markham, ON., native showed promise as a starting pitcher by posting a record of 7-5 with a 3.39ERA in 26 starts with the Lugnuts in 2017. In 2018, he posted a 12-8 record in 26 starts, a 4.11ERA, making one start for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
Surprisingly, the Blue Jays left Romano unprotected at the Rule V draft where the Chicago White Sox scooped him up and flipped him to the Texas Rangers. The 6-foot-4 righty had a nice Spring Training; unfortunately/fortunately, he was returned to the Blue Jays on March 23rd. The Rangers had Romano working out of the bullpen but the Blue Jays returned the 26-yr-old back to a starting role with the Buffalo Bisons.
In April, Jordan Romano made 3 starts, going 1-1 with a 8.10ERA over 13.1IP. He did a good job striking batters out (18K) but walked 6 batters and allow opponents to bat .291 (16 hits) including 4 home runs.
That was that, Romano was returned to the bullpen.
The month of May was much more encouraging results. Romano earned his 1st Triple-A save on May 26th and established himself as the Herd’s closer for a short time. Jordan posted a 5.93ERA in 9 appearances, collecting 2 saves, walking 6 batters, and striking out 18 batters in 13.2IP. He lowered his HRA from 4 to 2 while holding opponents to a .196BA. He continued to pitch well into June (0-0, 1.50ERA in 6 app), making his MLB debut on June 12th against the Baltimore Orioles (1IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 2K).
In 5.1IP of work, Romano posted a 5.06ERA with a .118OppBA. He allowed one walk, struck out 11 batters, and allowed 2HR. On June 23rd, Jordan Romano was returned to Buffalo.
Romano landed on the IL on July 11th, missing nearly a month. Upon his return from the IL on August 13th, Romano made 4 relief appearances for the Bisons. He went 0-0 with a 4.91ERA, 0 BB, 6K, and one HRA. Toronto recalled Jordan Romano on August 22nd. He struggled with his command upon his return to the big leagues. He walked 4 batters in 2.2IP in August while striking out 3. In 7.1IP between September and October, Romano walked 4 batters, struck out 7, allowed 14 hits (.389OppBA), and surrendered 2 more home runs for a 11.05ERA.
Overall, Jordan Romano posted a record of 0-2 with a 7.63ERA, 4.45xFIP, and an ugly 36.4% HR/FB in 15.1IP as a member of the Blue Jays bullpen. Romano finished with a 12.33 K/9 and 5.28 BB/9 while allowing opponents to bat .274 for a 1.70WHIP.
According to Baseball Savant, Romano threw 310 pitches in the major leagues in 2019. He used his FB 63.5% of the time and SL 36.5% of the time. Baseball Savant tells us that his FB was thrown on average at 94.6MPH, topping out at 99.1MPH, and was thrown for a strike 46%. His average slider was thrown at 84.7MPH and was thrown in the strike zone 48% of the time. Both Romano’s offerings appear around league average for horizontal and vertical movement but his 46.8% pitches in the zone (49.9% league avg) need some work.
Romano did a good job of painting the edges of the zone with 42.9% (league avg 39%). He did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground with 51.2% of the balls put in play being groundballs; unfortunately, he posted GB% between 35.5 and 41.3% throughout his MiLB career. When batters barrelled up Romano (10%) the balls went a long way as evidence of his high FB/HR%. Otherwise, Romano was league average (87.7MPH) for exit velocity allowed with 87.8MPH.
Jordan Romano held LHB to a .192BA with a 1.36WHIP, 4.30xFIP, 12.27K/9, 6.14BB/9 and 1.23 HR/9. Against RHB, he allowed them to bat .265 with a 2.00WHIP, 4/58xFIP, 12.38 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, and 3.38HR/9.
On Fangraphs, Steamer and Depth Charts have Romano making 45 relief appearances for the Blue Jays in 2020. They seem to be a little conservative on his K/9 numbers with 8.97 while I’d take 3.39BB/9. Also, Romano is predicted to post a 4.74ERA.
Romano has a 50/50 chance of earning a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen out of Spring Training. In order to do that, he will need to control the zone better, limiting the longball, and staying healthy. If Romano can do manage this, his velocity and K/9 could make him a late-inning option.
With that said, Romano could pitch well in the Spring and still draw the short straw. He has two minor league options which will make it easy to assign his to Buffalo while giving a waiver wire pick up a trial run.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.