Out of all the teams that Marlins fans would consider rooting for during this MLB postseason, the Twins ought to be a popular choice. There’s nothing in their head-to-head history that would elicit any hard feelings should they advance deep into October. Plus, they have Sergio Romo.
The veteran right-handed reliever spent just five-and-a-half months in the Marlins organization—officially signed on Feb. 15—before being shipped off to the eventual AL Central champs. But that brief period left a great impression on Romo, as told to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required).
Romo cherished his unique relationship with Derek Jeter. The Marlins CEO made himself approachable in the clubhouse while also collaborating on key decisions in the front office. It’s “a fine line,” Romo said. “That dude dances on it really well.”
President of baseball operations Michael Hill candidly admitted that the 36-year-old overachieved. That was due in large part to the fact that Romo wouldn’t allow a rebuilding situation to affect his intensity:
“What we really appreciated and loved about him beyond his professionalism and his championship pedigree, was how fierce of a competitor he was,” Hill said.
“When he entered the game, it was all business. Never afraid and always confident, no matter what the situation. He was going to fight you to the end. That mentality from a guy 5’8” throwing 88 mph was huge for a group of young guys in our bullpen.”
The Twins included Romo on their 25-man roster for the ALDS against the Yankees which begins Friday night. It’ll be his fifth time participating in a postseason run (including World Series titles with the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Giants).
Last time around, Romo dangled on the free agent market into Spring Training, accepting a modest $2.5 million guarantee from the Fish. However, expect him to draw more interest this coming offseason. His 3.68 FIP across 65 appearances was his best since 2015. His 2.54 WPA established a new career high. The aging process hasn’t done much to weaken his signature slider, which continues to account for the majority of his total pitches thrown.
My favorite Sergio Romo tidbit from the article: According to linear weights' cumulative pitch values, Romo's slider is the third-best pitch thrown by relievers since his debut in 2008, trailing only Kenley Jansen's cutter and Aroldis Chapman's heater. https://t.co/saJeB7jgJ4— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 29, 2019
Following Romo’s departure, the Marlins bullpen completely crumbled over the final two months of the regular season. Maybe Drew Steckenrider comes back healthy from his elbow injury and José Ureña fully embraces being a reliever and Tommy Eveld bursts through as a late-inning dynamo? Realistically, though, a Miami ‘pen comprised entirely of internal options projects to be among MLB’s worst.
While the Marlins may steer clear of blockbuster moves this winter, a serious pursuit of Romo makes total sense.