Fernando Romero has been the topic of a lot of the pitching talk this offseason. The discussion surrounding him has been whether he will start the season in the MLB and whether he should be a starting pitcher or relief pitcher. A lot of fans and people with the team have even discussed him being the closer.
It will likely come to spring training to decide what Romero’s role is. If he is to stay as a starter then it would make the most sense for him to start in AAA, but if the Twins decide he would be more effective as a reliever then he will probably start in the MLB.
He did not come out of the bullpen for any games last year, starting in all eleven of his appearances. To find out how effective he was as a reliever we will have to look at some more in depth stats.
He was at his best in high leverage situations, allowing only a .576 OPS and having a 26.6% strikeout ratio. He was also much better when facing hitters for the first time in a game as opposed to the second or third time. He allowed a .757 OPS the first time and a BABIP of .303 the first time through the order. His strikeout/walk rate was actually down by about 1.5 so that could be a concern.
Romero has three pitches he uses most of the time. He has a fastball, change up and a potentially lethal slider. Parker Hagerman wrote about the slider in that link so click that for a great read. He threw the fastball 63.4% of the time, the slider 24.7% and the change up 11.9%. The velocity can reach around 96 MPH but as a reliever he could probably hit 97-98 because he’s only throwing one inning at a time. The change up pile be a good pitch but at -2.1 wCH value he will have to improve. He does have good velocity (90-91 MPH) so there is definitely potential there.
I think Romero will start the season in the bullpen because I believe his ceiling is much higher in that role. He will likely start as an opener/middle innings guy but if he is successful after a couple week then he could be moved to a high leverage setup role or even closer. There is as good a chance for him to become closer as anyone else on the team with how the bullpen seems to be shaking out.
The other option that could happen would be just putting him back in AAA to either give him more reps as a starter or reliever depending on what the coaching staff wants. I would love to see Romero in the bullpen late in games carving up hitters and winning games for the Twins.
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