Ricky Romero is certainly facing an uphill battle.
The former All-Star is biding his time in Triple-A Buffalo while trying to prove to everyone he still has what it takes. On Friday, he sure made everyone take notice.
Friday night was the second game of the new and improved Ricky Romero. In a recent article by John Lott of the National Post, Romero said he was "ditching" his new mechanics, and going back to what made him successful: "The biggest thing is confidence, you know?" he said. "It was never anything mechanical. What I told the organization was that I was going back to my old mechanics, plain and simple.”
Since that interview, Romero has put together two solid outings. Last week against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Romero went just under six innings, gave up seven hits, three runs, walked two and struck out three. On Friday, Romero defeated the Pawtucket Red Sox in his best outing in well over a year.
In six innings, he surrendered only two hits, walked three and struck out three. It was the first time since May 11 that he didn't give up a run.
Undoubtedly, this has been a struggle for Romero, who was once regarded as one of the best up-and-coming left-handers in the game. In his breakout season in 2011, Romero went 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA in a career-high 225 innings. Opponents hit a career-low .215 and his walks per nine innings decreased for the third consecutive year.
At that time, Romero was at the beginning of a five-year, $30 million contract, but since then, it has been all downhill at a rapid pace.
Whether the decline was due to mechanics or not—Romero's struggles had a lot to do with his inability to throw strikes—but an obvious decrease in velocity of nearly two mph on each pitch contributed to his problems.
Recently, Romero was removed from the Toronto Blue Jays' 40-man roster. With this move, he had to clear waivers, meaning that every team had a chance to sign him and take on his contract. Up until now it seemed like there was no hope, like this one man's unbearable nightmare couldn't get any worse, but one start—one good outing—could turn this whole thing around.
The only person who can help Romero is himself, and he's taken that first giant leap.