Man, after thinking about where I need to go with this intro, I got a mad hankering for Italian food. Just ordered some to get here during afternoon baseball. Is it profiling that now I’m non-stop craving Italian when I hear a name like Sal Romano? But Italian food is so positive! Is there such a thing as positive profiling?!
Speaking of Profiling, we’re back with enough edition of the Pitcher Profile! I know I’m picking someone that’s pretty far off the beaten path, but any time Sunday baseball features an-even-somewhat-interesting guy making their debut, I’m intrigued! Romano was vaguely on the radar for the NL-only and NFBC-type leagues given the Reds complete lack of a starting rotation, and surprisingly it was Rookie Davis getting the first DL stint (not their old farts, although Brandon Finnegan got hurt as well Saturday night) that opened an early spot for Romano to make his debut. Buried on prospect lists in the 10-20 range for Cincy (they do have a good farm system though), with Ralph ranking him as merely a “floorboard”, Romano apparently has pretty interesting stuff from what I read, mainly a mid-to-high 90s fastball. As tradition, I write the intro to the Profiles before I watch a pitcher’s start, and I’ll withhold any judgment until I see him throw. So as I eagerly await my baked ziti, the Brewers game is about to start and I’m pumped to see how Romano looks and Profile his debut. Here’s how he fared yesterday afternoon in his debut:
First Inning: Romano at 6’5 270 (loves his Italian food too!) hits the outside corner at 97 to Nick Franklin (getting a start with Jonathan Villar getting a day off), 0-1. Then paints the outside corner at 98, 0-2. Look at the early heater!
Then his first breaking ball is a hard slider at 90 in the dirt and Franklin barely holds up, quite a start. 1-2 tails outside at 98, 98 on the hands is fouled off, 98 is a little inside, then 97 in the upper-away third gets a foul tip in the mitt for a K to open up Romano’s career:
97 high and away to the red hot Eric Thames, 97 in the zone fouled off, breaking ball at 87 stays outside, 97 a little high and away, then 96 is a little low for a walk. Don’t blame the Reds for being a little careful with Thames, he’s mad en fuego. Broadcast brings up that in 13 innings over two starts in AAA he only had one walk, so control doesn’t seem to be a big issue. First pitch to Ryan Braun is high and tight and Braun goes for it and pops it to foul ground, and Arismendy Alcantara had a clear easy shot at it and dropped it. So an error there and Braun still up 0-1, then 88 little slider is in the zone, 1-2. Nasty pitch!
95 high and tight fouled back, slider outside, 97 on the hands fouled off, slider outside in the dirt, 2-2 bareeeeeeeeeeeely misses the outside corner to Braun, then hanging slider of hard curve stays inside for another walk. Fastball looks plus plus, but the breaking stuff isn’t very consistent. But it’s early, could be nerves. Travis Shaw takes a fastball low, 97 again low dribbled foul, 97 again low and in, then 96 on the outer third at the knees is flared to left for an easy flyout. Fastball in the dirt to Hernan Perez, 97 right in there, 97 low and away, then nasssssssssssty 89 MPH slider gets a bad whiff, another slider at 90 pulls lightly foul, slider again tipped back foul, spiked a slider this time, 3-2 96 MPH fastball fouled off on a late swing, 96 again fouled away, 95 fouled off again, then went back to the slider at 88 and gets a lazy fly to center to finally wrap up his first inning. 35 pitches, albeit an error extended the inning, with that Perez at-bat that lasted 11 pitches… Hopefully we can see a couple breezy innings.
Second Inning: After a long bottom of the first as well (that also yielded no runs), Romano sails a fastball to Manny Pina, fastball again outside, then a 2-0 hammer curve at 83 drops in there to make it 2-1, holy shit, look at that pitch!
Then follows it up with 95 on the hands fouled off, high fastball again fouled back, curveball stays too high 3-2, then fastball at 95 is right down the middle and Pina rips it to left for a double. Then 95 inside plunks Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Yikes, the stuff looks good and he supposedly had control, but the nerves might have him right now. 96 looked to be in the zone gets called a ball outside to Orlando Arcia, curve drops in a little inside, then 95 letter high is hit hard to center, and on the trot Billy Hamilton has it on the warning track for the first out. Loud out. Then a great bunt by Wily Peralta moved up the runners on the first pitch, so two outs, runners 1st and 2nd, and Franklin takes 96 painting the low inside corner, 0-1. Hard curve barely has him hold his swing 1-1, fastball way high, then 95 on the hands absolutely ties him up for an easy infield pop to get him through another stressful – albeit scoreless inning.
Third Inning: Still scoreless, and hanging curve outside to Thames, he pulls a fastball foul, then curveball gets a routine easy grounder to second, and Alcantara boots as routine and easy a grounder as you can imagine. Two errors now on Alcantatra, and as a utility dude, that’s NOT how to get more playing time. Fastball low to Braun, then fastball letter high to Braun is shot oppo field in as vintage a Braun homer as you can imagine. Right at the top of the zone – elevated not quite where Tucker Barnhart wanted it – just some great hitting. So hoping to settle back in and a fastball is high and tight to Shaw, fastball again gets a late swing foul, hanging curve outside, then fastball right in a lefty’s wheelhouse is an absolute moonshot to right for a long, high homer. Back-to-back homers, wow. Yeah, things starting to not look so good… Fastball low to Perez, heater again outside, fastball again pretty far outside, and 3-0 count gets a catcher’s meeting. Then fastball again is low, 4 pitch walk, and Romano is unglued. Pass me the garlic knots! Curveball low to Pina, then fastball again outside, and Romano has nothing in the zone right now. Out comes everyone for a conference, then another fastball misses, and yet another way high and tight and another 4 pitch walk. Sheesh. But there we go, 95 MPH fastball right in there to Nieuwenhuis, maybe change-up at 87 that didn’t do much is outside, another hanging something at 86 outside, 94 on the outside edge slashed foul, then 87 MPH maybe slider that still didn’t do much had enough change of speed to get a foul tip in the mitt for his 2nd K. Slider in the dirt almost gets an offering but Arcia held up, fastball inside, then fastball at the knees gets a double-play chopper, but Joey Votto couldn’t dig it out and Arcia is safe at first. May have been safe either way, but Votto drops a huge F-bomb that he didn’t make the play. So runners 1st and 3rd, two down, and slider (?????) in the dirt low and away to Peralta (really going to start the opposing pitcher with a slider when you have control issues?!), fastball outside and Arcia takes second, fastball low, 3-0 to the pitcher. I regret Profiling this start, this is no bueno. Fastball in there at only 92 – just having to guide it in there – 92 in there again, then 92 on the hands is popped to first for another big out to keep this from becoming an absolute gutting. And with his spot up in the bottom of the inning, Romano gets pinch-hit for, and Romano gets to shame-eat a whole pizza after reflecting on how he lost all his control and command…
Final Line: L 3.0 IP 82 Pitches (39 Strikes) 2 ER 3 Hits 4 Walks 2 K Gamescore: 25 Gamescore+: 45
Final Analysis: The matchup afternoon was actually very apt. Romano and opposing pitcher Wily Peralta are shockingly similar. Huge fastball that can get too straight without pinpoint command, lack of any consistent secondary stuff, and both are 6’5 and like, a bajillion pounds. As always with shorter outings, the Gamescore+ comes out much more favorably.
Romano is obviously where he is as a ML-caliber pitcher with the fastball. Was usually 95-97, it topped out at 98 and bottomed out to 92 when he was just guiding pitches in the zone to the opposing pitcher when he lost all his feel. An over-the-top delivery, there really wasn’t too much deception or movement on the heater. So he needs his secondary stuff to work. While I GIFfed some nice examples, the slider and curveball were both inconsistent at best, but he may have been overthrowing them as the debut-jitters impacted the stuff. Without either pitch, lefties are going to have a field day against him, which makes me feel pretty smart for streaming Travis Shaw yesterday in the Perty Perts. :) The arsenal is all there, and he’s shown good results in AAA without walking anyone, so there could be something here down the line as he settles in.
Another thing to note that I’m just realizing when watching the GIFs, is that the Brewers hitters seemed to have a pretty good feel on what pitch was coming. Watch both of the breaking ball GIFs – while Braun and Pina held up, it looks like their timing was looking for off-speed the whole way. I can’t pick it up, but maybe Romano was tipping his pitches, and the Brewers caught onto it pretty quick. Just a guess.
Eh well, when you start a post, write the intro, eat a bunch of Italian food, and were watching the Brewers anyway – you’re kinda pot committed even if a guy you Profile doesn’t look that great. The fastball I think will play in the Majors at some capacity, but we really need to see the slider and curveball to show consistency before thinking he can be a for-sure MLB starter. Plus it didn’t help at all that Alcantara extended the game not once but two times with errors and Tim Adleman came in long relief and looked great – although Adleman might just get Finnegan’s spot. A rebuilding Reds team should continue to give Romano looks as a starter – as mentioned above he wasn’t a bad-control guy in the Minors so maybe a lot of the issues we saw yesterday was nerves – but it’s likely a long ways out until we have Romano in the mixed league fantasy discussion. NL-only and the really deep mixed leagues maybe should keep an eye out on his next start or two, but in shallow leagues, you can go ahead and “cross him off then…”.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto, green for risers, red for fallers)
Dropped Out: J.A. Happ, TOR (I may be rushing a little bit to judgment, but as of right now, left his last start in significant pain and getting MRI on his elbow…), Jonathan Gray, COL (DL for a while – foot), Brandon Finnegan, CIN (sounds like DL for a while as well, lat/trap), Garrett Richards, LAA (yeah this sounds like a lingering “whodunit?!” figuring out what’s wrong…), Jesse Chavez, LAA (still think he was a good deep-league call, but running out of room), Jason Hammel, KC (see below)
- Yeah Chris Sale looked absolutely unreal against the Rays. Better than I even remember in his White Sox days last year… Must be the nice feel and weight of the new jersey…
- What a nuts outing for Carlos Martinez! 11 Ks and 8 BBs in one start?! Unreal! Literally no one could hit the ball. Literally no one knew where the ball was going. That was literally awesome!
- Almost as unhittable as Sean Manaea! All he does is throw no-hitters! That was a crazy game, just lost his release point. Control was never a huge issue for him coming up, so I’m still very bullish.
- F it. All in on James Paxton. My years of loving on my big sturdy Canadian man are paying off, eh!
- I watched some of Jameson Taillon‘s last start at the Cubs, and his stuff looked like it had an added crispness, on top of his already solid command. Yeah, he did give up 3 walks, but looked great overall to me.
- Lance McCullers has a 23:3 K:BB?! Since he’s given up 4 homers and some runs the past two games, it might be one of your last chances to buy low.
- With all the talk on velocity bumping up 1-1.5 MPH on fastballs, it’s realllly disconcerting to see Cole Hamels‘ fastball DOWN 0.8 MPH after consistently being a mid-92 MPH fastball guy. He should be at like 93+ with the adjustment, but he’s down to 91.8. His slow start scares me a bit.
- His second start yesterday afternoon was a mixed bag, but 10 Ks in 4.1 innings for Drew Pomeranz?! After his stellar debut against the Orange Birds, I’m feeling Pom-wonderful!
- God, please don’t look at where I had Jason Hammel coming into the year and through last week… I blame the commenters for not helping me fix that one! I think I had one comment on it, but blah, I hate everything about Hammel now! Like Hamels (irony), velo is down when it should be somewhat up. And he’s bad in the second half too, so I can’t imagine how bad that’ll be this time!
- Ervin Santana‘s numbers look awesome – he’s faced the White Sox twice though. They might be the worst offense in baseball..
- While Michael Wacha gets a bump – his stuff is looking pretty good despite an iffy start last time out – I have no faith that his shoulder can hold up. I mean, it just breaks sometimes… Literally. Have I said that word too much in these additional notes?!
- And just because pitching is awesome, look at Padres reliever Miguel Diaz on this pitch. Damn, if he could throw that consistently!
Any of you deep leaguers out there interested in Romano? And how do the ranks look this week? Shoot your comments below, or you can leave a message for the Podcast that we’ll answer on the show! We record around 6:00 PM EST, so get your messages in before then and we’ll answer what we can. Thanks for dropping by, and happy pitching, Razzball Nation!