Really good article by Morgan Campbell in the Toronto Star today that explains how Toronto starting pitcher Ricky Romero is working to put himself on top of the jays rotation for good. Talk around the team indicates that it is a two horse race between him and teammate Shaun Marcum who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. I believe newcomer Brandon Morrow, if he has success in Spring Training, could see himself vault into the conversation.
Last year Romero came shooting out of the gate with a hot start before hitting the disabled list with a freak oblique injury that he suffered while sneezing. His season long stats were 29 GS, 178 IP, 192 H, 18 HR, 141 K, 79 BB, 13 W, 9 L which are not spectacular, but are surprising considering he wasn't projected to even break camp with the team. After defeating another highly-touted pitcher, Rick Porcello, in his MLB debut he posted a solid April month (3 GS, 21 IP, 19 H, 1 HR, 13 K, 4 BB, 2 W, 0 L). In one of those starts, Romero was dazzling at home against the Athletics where Jack Cust compared his pitch repertoire and body build to that of Cy Young winner Johan Santana.
The start was definitely too much to keep up, but the promise that lead the Jays to draft him with the 6th pick in the 2005 amateur draft was becoming evident.
As you can see in the graphic below, Romero's numbers fell off drastically after the All-Star break:
According to the article, Romero does not attribute the drop-off to fatigue, but rather to a sudden loss of the strike zone. It's true that his control suffered as he walked batters at a clip that put him near the worst in the American League with former-Jay A.J. Burnett.
With the loss of Roy Halladay, the Blue Jays need someone to step up and take over the role of ace of the staff and it seems as though Romero is working hard to put himself in that position.