Wilner on Jays: A fitting end to Romero’s year

September 29, 2012, 9:43 PM

It was a sad, but fitting, end to a miserable 2012 season for Ricky Romero, who suffered through by far his worst year in the big leagues – but at least he’d managed to get through it healthy.

Romero went into his final start of the year as the only one of the Blue Jays’ top five starters to have left every one of his starts as a result of a manager’s decision as opposed to a trainer’s (with the exception of his one complete game, he left that one because it was over), but he couldn’t finish up the finale, joining Brandon Morrow (leg/oblique), Henderson Alvarez (leg/elbow), Kyle Drabek (elbow) and Drew Hutchison (elbow) as Jays’ starters to leave a game with an injury.

Romero hurt his left leg when he landed on a third-inning pitch to Andruw Jones, but managed to stay in the game to throw two more pitches – striking out Jones and getting Eduardo Nunez to line out to second to escape a bases-loaded, none-out jam – before being unable to answer the bell for the fourth inning.

The Jays trailed 2-1 when Romero left, but came back to take him off the hook, so Ricky’s year from hell ends with a 9-14 record (a career-low in wins and career-high in losses). His 5.77 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 198 hits allowed, 105 walks and 124 strikeouts are all career-worsts. He threw 181 innings, only three more than his career-low 178 as a rookie.

For Romero, the fact that this season is in the rear-view mirror is nothing but a good thing, and though it’s unfortunate that he couldn’t finish on his own terms because of the quadriceps/knee injury, at least he’ll have the better part of six months to recover, if he needs it. The other positive was the fact that the last pitch he threw this season was one that extricated him from a bases-loaded, nobody out jam without the Yankees scoring a run.

At least that’s something strong to take with him into the off-season because for a while it looked like he might not even have that. When the Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning, it appeared as though this might be another “one of those starts” for Romero, but he didn’t allow that inning to get away from him, nor did he allow the third to. It wasn’t a good start by any means, with eight baserunners in three innings, but Romero was big when he needed to be, and the defense helped, and he heads into the winter without another “L” hung beside his name.

One hopes that Romero enjoys these next four games, cheering on his mates from the duguout – hopefully to the three wins they need to avoid a 90-loss season – and then gets the heck away from baseball for a couple of months. As I’ve noted before in this space, these seasons aren’t as rare as one might think for otherwise good pitchers. It would surely help the Blue Jays in 2013 and beyond if this annus horribilus for Romero was a one-off, never to happen again.

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