Tampa Bay Rays Need a Closer
By Michael Emdeyar
Sergio Romo’s days as a closer have passed. The Tampa Bay Rays can do better.
The Tampa Bay Rays moved on from Brad Miller. They turned first base over to rookie Jake Bauers. They’ve moved on from Adeiny Hechavarria aat shortstop in favor of top prospect Willy Adames. Why are they leaving games that are in their favor in the hands of a washed up closer?
Sergio Romo was once a top closer. Four years ago he saved 23 games and the year before that 38. But, four seasons later, he is a mere shadow of that pitcher. Of course it’s easy for me to question him tonight, of all nights, after he blew a lead against defending champion Houston Astros. And, yes, he has three saves this season But, for a team in the full turn to the youth of the organization, leaving the ninth to him is counterproductive.
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This Sergio Romo looks like the one who started last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was his worst start of a season, but far. And, it got him dumped by the Dodgers. In fact, his hits/9 innings is at 8.7, his highest ever and higher than the 8.3 with LA last season. And, let’s face it. It could be declining skills for the 35-year-old RHP. Or, it could be the lack of a defined role, but let’s not open up the conversation on Openers.
Another position prime for the youth movement.
It’s hard for teams to thrust a rookie immediately into the closer role. It takes the special player. I get that. The Rays seem to have at least a couple of special arms in their bullpen. Ultimately, I think Diego Castillo will end up there. Perhaps this month. Possibly next season. But, his 36 minor league saves indicate that he was at least being primed for the role.
Similarly, one could argue that Jose Alvarado looks like he could close. But, that’s not how the Rays developed him. His three career minor league saves would indicate that he was meant to be a situational reliever, not a closer. But, his 100 mph fast ball gets a lot of people out, so his place in the back-end of the bullpen looks good.
Personally, I think the Rays need to make a decision on hard thrower Ryne Stanek. As openers go, he’s been as successful as any of them. But, I’d like to see the Rays stick him at the back end of games a few times and see how he reacts. While it’s a much smaller set, Ryne Stanek is at 4.2 hits per nine. Compare that to Justin Verlander, who leads the majors with just over a 5 hits per nine innings average.
It’s time to move on from Sergio Romo. Another great guy and no doubt a fine clubhouse presence. But, to fit the cast for this year’s Tampa Bay Rays, it’s time to move on from him and see what else they have.