In a no-brainer move, the Phillies have declined their $4.5 million option on reliever J.C. Romero for 2011. He’ll get a $250,000 buyout instead.
Philadelphia signed Romero to a three-year, $12 million deal after he posted a 1.24 ERA in 36 innings down the stretch in 2006. He was reasonably solid in Year 1 of the contract, posting a 2.75 ERA despite 38 walks in 59 innings, but then missed most of last season thanks to a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs followed by an elbow injury.
He returned to appear in 60 games this season, but managed to pitch a total of just 36.2 innings in part because the Phillies used him mostly as a left-handed specialist and in part because he couldn’t throw strikes consistently. Romero walked 29 batters in 36.2 frames, which makes him very tough to rely on in key spots despite his remaining very effective versus left-handed bats.
Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani put on a show during Saturday’s matinee against the Cubs. Up 2-1 in the third inning, the hurler hooked a Brian Duensing fastball over the left field fence for his first career home run — and first career grand slam:
Grand slams are impressive no matter the player or situation, but they’re made all the more special in rare circumstances like this one. Not only is DeSclafani the first pitcher to deliver a grand slam in 2018, but he’s the first Reds hurler to do so in nearly 60 years. Per MLB.com’s Brian Scott Rippee, right-hander Bob Purkey was the last to hit a slam for the Reds in 1959, when he took Cubs reliever John Buzhardt deep in the third inning of a 12-3 drubbing.
The 28-year-old righty had a decent outing on the mound as well, holding the Cubs to two runs, four walks, and three strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings before passing the ball to reliever Michael Lorenzen. Entering Saturday, he carried a 2-1 record in three games, with a 4.60 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9 across 15 2/3 innings — not too shabby for someone who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016.
The Reds currently lead 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh.