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Even before spring training opened, it seemed that the Jays' starting rotation was set in concrete.
Who could go wrong with Dickey, Johnson, Morrow, Buehrle and Romero?
Five definitive major-league starters with phenomenal resumes, plus the confidence and professionalism required to be a successful baseball player.
But that's only the case if you ignore Ricky Romero's 2012 season. Many people have many different opinions as to why Romero struggled last season: His elbow required surgery in the offseason; he has significant knee pain; he's simply not good enough.
Whatever you believe about why Romero took a step backward in 2012, the facts say that he walked too many batters, giving up the free pass almost six times per nine innings. What's worrying about Romero is his spring numbers.
He's given up seven walks in only 8.2 innings.
While that's not a large sample size in any way, combining those numbers with his 2012 walk rates makes the trend a major concern for Jays fans. You simply cannot win games when pitchers give up walks.
Which brings us to J.A. Happ, who has been somewhat unfairly dismissed as a potential starter with the 2013 Blue Jays. From management's perspective, it's understandable that they need to place faith in Romero, considering his history with the club, and it's also understandable that they want to hold on to Happ in the case of inevitable injury.
But is this an example of gut feelings triumphing over reason?
Happ hasn't exactly been perfect this spring, posting a 2.77 ERA despite allowing a .321 opponent's batting average. However, Happ's control has amplified Romero's struggles. He has allowed only one walk in 13 innings.
If things continue as they have in March, Jays management will need to have a legitimate debate over which left-hander ought to round out their rotation.
Despite Romero's previous success, there's no reason to keep him in the majors if, at this point, Happ is the better pitcher. The biggest question Jays management and Jays fans will have to ask themselves is: Does Ricky Romero or J.A. Happ give us a better chance to win on April 4?
The next few weeks will certainly help to answer this question, but the decision-makers should not place blind faith in Romero.
A few years ago, four teams tied for the last playoff spots in both the American and National League. Every game is hugely important.
Do the Jays really want to gamble on a pitcher who may cost them a win?
It's not like the team doesn't have any other options. In fact, they are lucky to have a player like Happ available, and they should not be afraid to utilize their assets.