Sergio Romo’s method is no secret: He bounds in from the bullpen, toys with the flat bill of his cap as he toes the rubber and tries to retire the batter with a trademark sweeping slider. At times, it has appeared the league is catching onto Romo – yet the lithe right-hander has adjusted, typically without changing much. A few rocky outings this season have spiked his ERA, yet some numbers suggest he’s having one of his most effective seasons. A look at this year compared to last:
Pitches swung at
Contact on swings
*Strikeouts/nine innings is the second-highest of Romo’s career behind 2011 (13.1).
**Opponents’ contact rate is a career low and the sixth-lowest of qualified MLB relievers.
Romo focused on integrating his changeup more against left-handers when he was the Giants’ closer in early 2014. And he held left-handers last season to a .256 average. This year, he is throwing the changeup less often, and left-handers are batting .432 against him. But he is holding right-handers to a .150 average and has a remarkable 49 strikeouts in 100 at-bats by them.
FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) looks at outcomes that don’t involve defense – strikeouts, walks, home runs allowed and hit-by-pitches – to try to isolate a pitcher’s individual performance. It assumes a league average on balls put in play by opponents and is expressed in a number like ERA. Romo’s ERA this season is 3.55 – but his FIP is just 1.71, indicating his luck on balls put in play has been very poor. In fact, Romo’s FIP is second-best among qualified major-league relievers, behind only Aroldis Chapman.