To Ricky Romero’s way of thinking, come Oct. 3, when the Toronto Blue Jays play their final game of the season, there will be plenty of time to put his feet up, sit back, and relax.
To have to do so now, with three weeks remaining in the schedule, doesn’t make much sense to the team’s struggling 27-year-old left-handed pitcher.
While many are of the belief that Romero should have been told weeks ago to take a hike to Triple-A to try to work out his pitching concerns, the American League team has instead told him to take a rest.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell revealed before Wednesday night’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre, a 6-4 Toronto victory, that Romero will miss his next regularly scheduled start on Saturday in Boston against the Red Sox.
Romero’s next start has been pushed back to Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, allowing him nine days between outings instead of the usual five.
After that, Romero will be part of an expanded six-man rotation for the rest of the season, which will provide him with additional down time that the team hopes will help rejuvenate his valuable arm heading into next year.
A cynic might suggest the unstated reason for all this is the fact that Romero has been destroyed at the unfriendly confines of Fenway Park over the years and that the team just wants to spare him the possibility of another public spanking.
While both the team and Romero have been unable to explain the rapid decline in his effectiveness, Farrell said the answer may rest in additional rest.
“I’m sure he’s not fully pleased, and I’m sure he’s not pleased by what’s transpired over the last 2<AF>1/2<XA> months,” Farrell said. “So when it’s outlined that we’re going to bump him a start and then keep him on extra rest, we feel that’s what we’re doing based on what we see and what’s the best approach for the rest of the season.”
Romero said he is okay with the decision – well, sort of.
“They’re doing whatever they feel is best for me and for the team,” Romero said. “I’m not insulted by it. Obviously I want to pitch. But I’m not going to sit here and pout.”
The Blue Jays (61-75) snapped a four-game losing skid with the win and put a temporary dent on a spirited run toward the playoffs for the Orioles (76-60), who entered the game tied for first in the East with the New York Yankees.
In his most recent start on Sunday against Tampa Bay, Romero suffered the shortest outing of his career, failing to record an out in the second inning while surrendering seven runs in a 9-4 loss to the Rays.
Romero has now lost a club-record 12 successive decisions and is an unsightly 8-13 with a 5.85 earned-run average, hardly the kind of production the team was anticipating from its No. 1 starter.
The Blue Jays like to point to Romero’s start on Aug. 28 against the Yankees, when he was pitching on six days of rest, to bolster the theory that at this stage a lighter load might be best.
Although Toronto lost 2-1 Romero was solid through seven innings, allowing both runs off just five hits.
However, that theory takes a bit of a beating when you consider that, in the big picture, Romero is 1-2 with a 7.52 ERA in four starts this season on six or more days of rest.
Romero does not buy the notion that his busy workload the past couple of seasons may be catching up with him late in a tough year.
“If I noticed something different in my velocity, if I saw a drastic change,” Romero said. “But when you look up there and you see, 93, 94, 92 – whatever it is.
“I feel good, I feel fresh.”
The only certainty to all this is that neither Romero or the Blue Jays will be able to rest easy until his problems are solved.
The Jays now head off to Boston where they’ll be met by J.P. Arencibia, their first string catcher who is ready to rejoin the team following an eight week absence recovering from a broken right hand.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie, who has been out with a right oblique strain, is also close to rejoining the big league roster and will be continuing his rehab assignment with the Lansing Lugnuts, Toronto’s Single-A affiliate.