Through 22 games and 22 innings pitched in April and May, Enny Romero had a 5.32 ERA with seven walks (2.86 BB/9), 23 Ks (9.41 K/9), and a .286/.350/.473 line against.
Over 12 games and 14 2⁄3 IP in June, however, the hard-throwing lefty has yet to give up an earned run (he allowed one unearned run), walking eight (4.91 BB/9), striking out 16 (9.82 K/9), holding opposing hitters to a .167/.293/.208 line and going multiple innings in six of his 12 appearances.
“He’s finding the plate,” Dusty Baker told reporters earlier this month, “he’s getting his breaking ball over and he already has an electric fastball.”
Baker was asked this afternoon, before the third game of four with the Chicago Cubs in the nation’s capital, what he’s seen from the lefty that has allowed Romero to do what he’s doing now, after struggling to start the season and developing a reputation for a lack of control during his three seasons in Tampa Bay before he was acquired this past winter, in a 1-for-1 trade for minor league righty Jeffrey Rosa.
In 80 1⁄3 innings in the majors with the Rays, Romero had a 4.46 ERA, 45 walks (5.04 BB/9) and 81 Ks (9.07 K/9).
“I didn’t know him,” Baker said today.
“I’d never seen him, because it’s not like Tampa is on TV all the time, and I was just trying to figure out how such a great arm could be not on somebody’s roster.”
Romero was out of options, of course, and the Rays made the decision to trade the lefty when he didn’t look like he would make their Opening Day pen.
Baker looked into things in more depth after he got a good look at Romero.
“When I saw his numbers he was either very good or couldn’t find the plate,” the Nats’ skipper explained, “and so I figured — Mike figured, and you’ve got to give Mike Rizzo and our staff a lot of credit for finding these guys like Enny. We have a couple guys — finding guys like [Matt] Albers, or finding they guys that are trying to get their career back together or started in the case of Enny — and he kind of reminded me personally of when I saw [Aroldis] Chapman when he first came up.
“He might walk three and then strike out three, and so all he had to do was work with Mike and work with our catchers and try to determine why he’s not throwing strikes, or something that he could do that would be different to help and I think he’s found that, and we’re trying to help him develop an offspeed pitch.
“It’s rare that a championship-caliber team is developing and teaching as the season goes on, you know what I mean, but this is what you have to do.
“He’s progressed very well.”
Baker told reporters earlier this Spring that Romero had been a target in the Rays’ system for a while before the finally acquired him.
“I heard he was a guy that we had coveted before we got [Felipe] Rivero,” Baker said, referring to the February 2014 deal with Tampa Bay that sent righty Nate Karns to the Rays in exchange for Rivero, Jose Lobaton and minor league outfielder Drew Vettleson.
[The Rays] wouldn’t give us Romero, I heard,” Baker continued.
“I wasn’t here, but I heard that we wanted Romero first and then Rivero second, and they didn’t want to give up Romero and they ended up trading us Rivero.”
Rivero, who was subsequently dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the deal that landed closer Mark Melancon last July, currently has a 0.88 ERA, 10 walks (2.20 BB/9), 41 Ks (9.66 K/9) and a .139/.205/.203 line against in 41 IP.
Through 36 2⁄3 innings overall this season, Romero now has a 3.19 ERA, 15 walks (3.68 BB/9), 39 Ks (9.57 K/9) and a .243/.329/.381 line against.
To quote Rizzo out of context talking about trying to solve the Nationals’ big picture bullpen issues this morning on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies, “we know what we’re doing, we’re pretty damn good at it.”