If you don’t remember the story of Barret Loux, here it is in a nutshell: Arizona drafted the Texas A&M right-hander sixth overall in 2010 and came to terms with him on a $2 million deal, only to back out of it after his physical showed significant damage in both his elbow and shoulder.
At that point, the Diamondbacks figured it was a much better idea to let him go, and, in so doing, secure the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft, rather than sign him at a drastically reduced amount. Loux was made a free agent and signed with the Rangers for $312,000 in Nov. 2010.
The now 23-year-old Loux has managed to avoid arm surgery since, and after winning again last night, he’s 14-1 with a 3.38 ERA and a 91/35 K/BB ratio in 117 1/3 innings for Double-A Frisco.
Loux isn’t a top prospect, and the Diamondbacks certainly wouldn’t change the way they handled the situation, given that they ended up with promising right-hander Archie Bradley from the compensation pick. Loux, though, does project as a useful bottom-of-the-rotation guy or middle reliever if he can stay healthy. The Rangers did well to take a chance on him, and it’d be no surprise if they call him up to make his major league debut next month.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.