Ricky Romero made his first Triple-A start since being demoted back to the minors by the Blue Jays and looked very much like the pitcher who’s 1-15 with a 7.60 ERA in the big leagues since last June.
Romero failed to make it out of the fourth inning, coughing up six runs on 10 hits, and walked five batters while recording zero strikeouts. It was a complete disaster of a start.
Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker was asked about the terrible performance and gave an excuse-filled response to Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun:
I think anytime anybody has returned from the big leagues to the minor leagues it’s always a letdown. Those Triple-A hitters can swing the bat. I mean, there’s a lot of good players down there and I’m sure most major leaguers can attest to that. When they go down for the first time or when they’re first sent down when they’re in the big leagues, it’s always a little bit of a letdown. Mentally you go out there and you think you can just go out there and do what you need to do but they swing the bat and they can put you in some tough situations.
Again, Romero is 1-15 with a 7.60 ERA in the majors since last June. His being terrible at Triple-A isn’t about “a letdown” or Triple-A hitters being amazing.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: