Update: Aug 29th (bottom of article)
Article Date: Aug 28th
Shut him down, send him down, skip him in the rotation, send him to the pen, send him to a shrink, kick his girlfriend to the curb, etc, etc, etc. These are just a few of the remedies that have been batted about for curing Ricky Romero.
Walks have been an issue. Confidence has also been called into question.
One thing is certain. During the horrid month of August, Ricky has been overthrowing his fastball early in counts, which leads to pitching from behind, which in turn can lead to walks. (Talk about stating the obvious.)
0-0 Pitches (all types) vs RHB, Month of August 2012
Contrast this image to April 2012, 0-0 counts:
Keep it down
It’s no secret that Ricky lives down in the zone. That’s his bread and butter.
2011 & 2012 Stats, via location (up, middle, down)
As the stats show, Romero gets killed upstairs, especially in terms of OBP: 2012 OBP up = .428, 2012 = .454. When he overthrows a pitch it gets crushed, or he ends up walking batters.
Taking into account current control issues, I’d rather see Romero get smacked around in the middle of the plate vs walking batters, while it goes without saying that staying down is his optimal path to success.
The current trend shown in the previous August 0-0 count heat map suggests a mechanical issue. This can be ironed out at a later date– there’s enough going on in Romero’s head.
In the meantime, Ricky needs to relax and focus on throwing quality fastballs down in the zone. This will allow him to dust off his most effective pitch (in terms of outcome), the change-up.
Why exactly did you ditch your best pitch?
2011 Pitch Outcomes vs RHB
Check out the change: .095 opponents batting average, .307 OPS, thrown about 22% of the time to righties
April 2012 vs RHB
How about that change-up? Once again Über effective: .118 batting average, .294 OPS, thrown 25% of the time
August 2012 vs RHB
The change is once again an awesome pitch: .143 batting average, .286 OPS. But the percentage nose dives all the way down to 11%.
This is partly due to not getting ahead. I get that. Still, Romero has had such a high level of success with the pitch there is no reason to go away from it. In-fact, Ricky should consider leaning on this pitch early in counts.
My simple fix:
- Ricky, chill… and don’t overthrow the fastball
- Attempt to throw middle and down exclusively. If you miss or get hit, who cares? Nothing good has ever come from pitching up; as the historical stats or the recent August location heat map indicate. Stay down, down, down. I cannot emphasis this enough
- Work on ‘feeling’ the change in side sessions, pre-game bullpen and in-game. Once again, keep that change down, down, down. Consistently throwing the fastball mid-lower in the zone for strikes will helps induce swings on low non-strike changes.
Yes, this is very simplistic, short-term solution. But I think this is the best course to take with Romero. Wait until the off-season to iron out the major mechanical issues. In the meantime hand him the ball and let him pitch. Whether the Jays win 70 or 72 games is inconsequential. Getting Romero back on track has to be one of the main focusses for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Sources: ESPN True Media, Ebay Images for baseball card
Ricky followed the game plan during his August 28th start vs NYY.
Pitch Location during start:
Change-up percentage to RH: 33%
- 25 of 76 pitches were change-ups, a huge uptick from the 11% thrown during previous August starts.
Final Line: 7 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, only 3 well-hit balls
Good job Ricky!