Man, all I want to do is write about free agents like Tim Hudson and Johan Santana and Roy Halladay and Randy Messenger until I pass out and sleep through January. After a soak in the tub, I'll chew raw coca leaves so I can stay awake for live Australian Baseball League broadcasts. It's something of an offseason tradition of mine.
But there's still some 2013 business to tidy up. We're in the middle of looking back at the individual seasons for each of the 2013 Giants, comparing and contrasting them to the preseason hopes of fanboys and fanboys.
Next up is Sergio Romo, who put in his first full season as a major-league closer. How did he do?
First point of order: Man, closers really don't mean a whole lot to a lousy team. Romo was still a good reliever, don't get me wrong. And three or four extra home runs sprinkled throughout the ninth innings of 2013 would have led to three or four extra holes in the drywall. But as hard as Romo worked, and as reliable as he usually was, it's hard to give him anything more than a participant ribbon. Not his fault.
And Romo was generally good. He was reliable. He threw more innings than he had in any season since 2010. He didn't allow a lot of home runs for the sixth-straight year. His control was still exceptional, and his ERA was under 3.00, like it usually is.
According to the situational stats, though, Romo wasn't so hot. His WPA was below average for the first time in his career, and his RE/24 wasn't nearly up to his standards. Those two stats aren't predictive stats, but they might help you figure out why you didn't trust Romo as much as you were accustomed. He allowed his hits at the wrong time, just like every other pitcher on the 2013 Giants.
What I projected:
Sergio Romo (projected)
Closer next year: yes
And what happened:
Sergio Romo (actual)
Closer next year: yes
Just a little … off. Still good. Still more than acceptable for a closer. Just off. Look at the progression over the last three years:
The only positive note is that Romo was so far ahead of everyone else, that he could fall back to earth a little without reaching his tipping point. Walking fewer than two batters and striking out almost nine for every nine innings pitched is an unquestionably good thing. It's just not a walk and 13 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched. That's sorta easy to get used to.
The velocity was the same as 2012, but Romo threw fewer sliders. Could have been strategic, could have been a barking elbow and/or knee. He also threw fewer pitches in the strike zone by far (43 percent last year compared to 49 percent in 2012 and 54 percent in 2011). I'm not smart enough to parse what that means. A function of the extra sinkers, which he used to tease or freeze? Or something to do with fatigue? Or worse?
No idea. But if you were thinking that Romo wasn't the same kind of magic last year, he wasn't. Just don't forget to note that he was still better than most of the relievers in baseball. I vote for "hiccup," if only to make me feel better. And if this is the guy's hiccup, we're pretty spoiled.