It’s no secret that Ricky Romero’s 2012 season has been a troubling one.
The victor of 15 games in 2011 for the Toronto Blue Jays has been held winless since June 22 and currently holds the worst ERA in the majors at 5.85.
In the wake of Romero’s last outing, a 9-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday in which he allowed seven runs on eight hits and one walk in his shortest start of the season (one inning plus), manager John Farrell is hoping extra time between games will help his struggling star.
“We’ve got Thursday off, followed by next Monday’s off-day, so there’s going to be some built-in rest,” Farrell said in a press conference following Sunday’s game. “When we talk about his last outing in New York [a 2-1 loss in which Romero held the Yankees to five hits in seven innings], it was on seven days.
“Whether the additional rest was a benefit to him at that point, the reason why he was as strong as he was, we’ll get through this next week which includes those two off days.”
Given Romero’s solid outing at Yankee Stadium last week, Farrell was surprised to see the 27-year-old’s pitching woes resurface again at the Rogers Centre five days later.
“I somewhat expected something similar to the way he had pitched in New York, but obviously that wasn’t the case [on Sunday versus the Rays,]” the Blue Jays manager said. “With location, that was inconsistent — a number of pitches were up in the strike zone — and they made him pay.
“I’m sure Ricky shares in that frustration where five days from a very strong outing, things kind of reverse course a little bit.”
Solution has been hard to find
Pinning down the trigger of Romero’s overall discrepancy this season has also proved troubling.
“We recognize the struggles he’s had and we also recognize that he’s been a very good pitcher previous to this year,” Farrell said. “The wide swings, that’s a little puzzling and I’m sure Ricky would acknowledge that it’s frustrating as well.
“You go from a seven-inning outing in New York where all his stuff is working, he’s got late action in the strike zone, then you have an outing like today.
“We’ve tried a lot of things with Ricky. We’ve all lived the challenges and frustrations he’s going through, but this is a unique situation.”
Hoping to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s outing, the team announced on Tuesday that Romero will skip his next scheduled start in favour of a nine-day rest period.
The lefty, who was scheduled to take the mound at Fenway Park this Saturday, will break until next Wednesday when the team faces Seattle at the Rogers Centre. Against the Mariners, Romero is 1-2 with a 3.64 ERA in his career; versus the Red Sox, he’s 5-7 with a 7.12 ERA.
Once the next week and a half is over, the Blue Jays will look to add a sixth man to the starting rotation, a move that would offer additional time off to Farrell’s pitching staff.
Who that sixth man will be remains a mystery.
Despite using Chad Jenkins, the right-hander recently promoted from Double-A New Hampshire, for five innings on Sunday, the Blue Jays manager dismissed any notion that the 24-year old would be handed a starting role any time soon.
“We haven’t discussed [giving Jenkins a start],” he said. “He’s done a very good job coming out of the bullpen.
“He throws strikes, he’s got some late action, particularly to his sinking fastball but at this point, we feel like he’s getting good exposure here and it’s been a good learning experience for him.”