Fernando Romero was once considered among the Twins’ top pitching prospects as little as a year ago, and was also considered a starting pitcher at the time. He made his MLB debut on May 2nd, 2018, as a starting pitcher for the Twins. He lasted 5.2 innings, and gave up zero runs on four hits and three walks. It was an impressive start for a pitching-starved team.
In total, Romero made eleven starts for the Twins in 2018, posting a 4.69 ERA with 45 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP over 55.2 innings. While not exactly eye-popping, those numbers aren’t so bad for a 23-year-old rookie either.
Anyway, the Twins decided today that Romero should transition to the bullpen. Manager Rocco Baldelli believes his 97 mph+ stuff would play well in shorter stints.
Before you rip me or the Twins for this move, let me say that I myself support it. Frankly, I’m an idiot and I trust the coaches in this type of think much more than myself. It’s also not like it’s the first time a promising young starting pitcher moved to the bullpen, even just for the Twins. Do the names LaTroy Hawkins, Eddie Guardado, Joe Nathan, or Glen Perkins ring a bell? All four were originally starting pitchers who were moved to the bullpen and had long and fantastic careers as closers. A transition like this is actually fairly common.
However, there are at least a couple questions here:
- Is Fernando Romero best used as a closer, long-relief pitcher, or some other role?
- Is it better to have Romero in the MLB bullpen, or starting in Triple-A?
- With Romero no longer a starter, how should the Twins go about constructing their starting rotation for 2019?
- Can Manny Ramirez pitch and play shortstop at the same time?
The Star Tribune has a video of Fernando Romero discussing the decision and his thought on their website here.