Thursday, May 3, 2018

Contemplating Fernando Romero

A nice major league
debut for Ferrnando
The Twins got about as good as they could have hoped for from Fernando Romero on Wednesday: 5.2 shutout innings.

He's not an efficient strike thrower. He walked three and hit one. He needed 97 pitches to get 17 outs. But the bottom line was no runs allowed, and the bullpen followed suit, and the Twins got a sorely needed W.

My "Greg McMichael Rule" applies: Get outs and they'll find a role for you. I think it's safe to expect Romero to remain in the rotation until he stops getting outs. What else should we expect?

A rough cap of about 150 total innings. He had 21 innings in four games (three starts) in Rochester, so he's at 26-plus now.

Romero had a career high of 125 innings last season in Chattanooga (Double A); his season really deteriorated in August (17 earned runs in his last three starts, none of which went more than five innings). He did not get a September callup as a result, even though he was already on the 40-man roster and even though he was widely regarded as Minnesota's best pitching prospect.

Romero's workloads have been limited in part because of his Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him for all of 2015. He threw 90 innings in 2016, 125 last year, and I would expect that 150 is a reasonable target for this year. And I suspect the final 25 will be a challenge for him.

Five and fly. Those 97 pitches Wednesday were a season high for him. A perusal of his Baseball Reference game logs suggest that he's reached 100 pitches only once in his professional career. He did have a few upper-90s pitch logs last year with Chattanooga.

Even if he can consistently throw 95 pitches a game without breaking down physically -- more on that concern later -- Romero is not efficient enough to get into the seventh inning consistently. He's not going to get 20 outs in a game often.

Injury risk. His release point was obviously inconsistent Wednesday, and he clearly struggles to repeat his delivery. Romero's stuff is comperable to that of Jose Berrios, but Berrios repeats his mechanics.

Romero's had significant injuries already in his young career, and the biggest indicator for future pitching injuries is past pitching injuries. The Twins would love to get 25 more starts and 125 more innings from him. That's not guaranteed to any pitcher, much less one with Romero's risk factors.

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