What a treat to watch Ricky Romero dole out nastiness in various and sundry forms last night. Heaters up to 94 miles per hour that landed in John Buck's glove with a SNAP. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes that made our knees buckle. Curveballs that fell vertically more than foot. Two-seamers with more than five and a half inches if horizontal movement. So much movement that we were as nauseous as the White Sox hitters in the end.
(Can you tell that we've just started mucking about on Brooks Baseball? If only we knew what we were talking about!)
As we watched last night's performance, we thought back to the years-upon-years of piled up snark that was directed towards Romero and his selection with the sixth pick in 2005. We thought of all the time that his selection ahead of Troy Tulowitzki (and other notable starters like Mike Pelfrey, Wade Townsend and Lance Broadway) was held up as the shining example of how this franchise was adrift and would spend decades in the wilderness trying to make up for the lost opportunity of a high draft pick.
And then we looked and saw RickRo in all his glory, looking like a pitcher who is finally starting to piece together his repertoire and his mental approach and put them into action with a sound game plan. Some pitching prospects might dazzle and blow away the scouts and pundits at first blush, but Romero never seemed like that sort of pitcher to us. He strikes us as more as a Tom Glavine-type: A pitcher whose progress is not based on harnessing otherworldly physical gifts, but rather, in maximizing the return on the skills that he has, and in being the man in control of game as often as possible.
As a 24 year-old in Atlanta, Glavine posted a 4.28 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP, while Romero's 24th year season saw him post numbers in a similar range: 4.30 and 1.55. Glavine went on to win the Cy Young the next season and finish in the top three of the voting five other times. Which isn't to say that we should be clearing space on RickRo's mantle just yet.
But after last night's performance, it's hard not to get excited by the possibilities.
Newest entry on The Enemies List - A.J. Pierzynski
If any of you have your "A.J. is a Douche" signs left over from Mr. Burnett's return last year, tonight might be a good time to bring them down to the RC. We're not blaming him for RickRo losing the no-hitter as some have, but we're more than a little stunned to see umpires give him the benefit of the doubt on his phantom hit-by-pitch last night given his shenanigans in the past.
We're not sure what is the most appropriate punishment at this point: A Brandon Morrow heater in the ribs? A strike zone several inches tighter for his pitchers in tonight's game? Where's Michael Barrett when we need him?