Skipped start can’t stop Ricky Romero’s shocking collapse

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After watching Ricky Romero go 0-12 with a 7.98 ERA in his previous 13 starts the Blue Jays mercifully decided to skip his turn in the rotation last week, giving the former All-Star a much-needed break.

Unfortunately it didn’t do much good.

Romero rejoined the rotation last night against the Mariners and failed to make it out of the fifth inning, allowing four runs on eight hits and four walks while recording just 12 outs.

With the loss he dropped to 8-14 with a 5.87 ERA overall, including 0-13 with a 7.91 ERA, .325 opponents’ batting average, and more walks (48) than strikeouts (44) in 72 innings spread over his last 14 starts. And remember, this is a 27-year-old pitcher who signed a $30 million contract extension after throwing 225 innings with a 2.92 ERA last season.

Romero has given up trying to explain his struggles, basically throwing his hands up when talking ro reporters after each terrible start, but manager John Farrell continues to insist that the Blue Jays will not shut him down. At this point I’m not sure if that’s showing confidence in Romero or some form of punishment.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.