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Former Giant Sergio Romo is a Starter Now; And Why That’s What’s Up

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Sergio Romo #54 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on May 20, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Sergio Romo #54 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on May 20, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Former San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo spent his first nine seasons of his Major League career in black and orange as a relief pitcher.

He was a member of the “Core Four,” including Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez. All four have three World Series rings and were key contributors to all of them.

Now, pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays, Romo has become a starting pitcher.

Except, not really.

Romo started back to back games against the Anaheim Angels, primarily because the Rays were facing a right handed heavy lineup and Romo is much better against right handed pitching.

And it worked. In his first career start, he struck out the side.

By starting Romo, there is no chance the Angels would pinch hit with a left handed bat.

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Also, giving a batter an uncomfortable at bat against a tough right hander to begin the game can be effective in a number of ways.

First, it changes the preparation an everyday starter is used to. Rarely does the traditional starter come into the middle of the game.

Now, when someone like Mike Trout faces Romo in his first at bat, his next at bat will be against a starting pitcher who has an inning or two under his belt to get more comfortable and know what pitches are working.

With teams loading up the top of their order more and more, this can neutralize the impact of that top heavy lineup early in games.

So many starting pitchers take an inning or two to get going. Makes more sense to do that against the bottom of the order.

Another reason this could catch on is because it gives the starter a better chance of pitching deeper into the game.

If Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw and other top starting pitchers began the game in the third inning, they could reach the ninth much easier.

Most aces are just as strong at the end of their outings, and if those innings became the eighth and ninth more regularly, that could help teams without strong bullpens.

Ultimately, it creates more strategy for managers and players to have to adapt and adjust.

As we have seen with a pitcher like Johnny Cueto, who will use everything from the quick pitch to the shimmy to keep hitters off balance, this is just another way of doing that.

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As a bonus, if this really did start catching on, we could see one of the least likely records in baseball history finally being broken. Hall of Famer Pud Galvin once started 75 games in a season in 1883 and a relief pitcher just pitching the first inning could possibly break that record.

In the meantime, it should be fascinating to see if Romo and other relief pitchers end up having success long term starting games.

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