When the Twins announced Sunday that rookie Fernando Romero was being sent down to Triple-A, it was a little surprising but not unwarranted. After sprinting out of the gate with a 1.88 ERA and .190 batting average allowed while striking out a quarter of the batters he faced over 5 starts, he sputtered over the last five with a 7.54 ERA, .313 batting average allowed, and a paltry 14% strikeout rate. When Romero was sent down, the move was also to bring another reliever onto the roster after a short start by Jake Odorizzi. However, Romero’s turn in the rotation would come up on Saturday, meaning that someone would need to return to start that game.
Since MLB rules dictate that a demoted player must spend 10 days off the active roster before being recalled (excluding when he replaces an injured player), Romero isn’t eligible to retake his rotation spot. Instead, it sure looks like young lefthander Adalberto Mejia will earn a promotion.
Acquired in 2016 from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Eduardo Nunez, Mejia spent a good chunk of last season in the Twins rotation. Making 21 starts, he had a 4.50 ERA but struggled as he averaged less than 5 innings per start. This season, he was poised to start the season in the rotation until the acquisitions of Odorizzi and Lance Lynn pushed him out of the picture. However, it appears that Mejia didn’t let the demotion affect him as he’s pitched well in Triple-A, putting up a 2.74 ERA and striking out nearly one out of every four hitters. What I find more encouraging is his walk rate, as he handed out free passes 10% of the time last year. Meanwhile, this year he has that number under 8% which would be above average if he maintains that rate in the major leagues.
Mejia has always had the talent - he was one of the Giants’ top prospects, after all - and even a couple years ago it was evident that his control was going to determine his future. It appears that he has made strides with that control, and thus he likely will be starting his second chance as a major leaguer when the weekend rolls around. As the Twins fight to remain relevant in the AL playoff picture, they’ll need all the help they can get, so hopefully Mejia is able to pick up where Romero left off.