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2019 Marlins Season Preview: Sergio Romo

The Marlins are hoping that newly added relief pitcher Sergio Romo can help address their bullpen woes.

Photo by @marlins/Instagram

Derek Jeter and company brought in another veteran to the Marlins, acquiring longtime relief pitcher and former All-Star Sergio Romo earlier this week.

Spending the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, Romo will look to bring experience and leadership not just to the Marlins clubhouse in his age-36 campaign.

How did he get here? Signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Friday.

2018 MLB Stats: 4.14 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 25 SV, 75 K in 67.1 IP

What can we expect from his 2019 season?

Yes, he is climbing the stairs in age, but Romo immediately becomes one of Don Mattingly’s better bullpen options. The 4.14 ERA in 2018 was a career worst, though his 25 saves still ranked in the top 15 in MLB. He also demonstrated some flexibility, “opening” five games for the Rays.

Last season, the Marlins bullpen was dreadful, especially in the ninth inning. Their 30 total saves ranked 29th in the league, whereas Romo had nearly that many on his own.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that his new contract includes performance bonuses for games finished, hinting that Miami could use him in that role.

While not as iconic as the cutter of Mariano Rivera or the splitter of Bruce Sutter, Romo’s arsenal does contain a nasty slider. His pitches have more horizontal break than anybody’s else, according to Quality of Pitch.

Magical” indeed:

Aside from Romo, Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley and Tayron Guerrero are looking to prove that they deserve to work in high-leverage situations out of the ‘pen. All three had their fair share of struggles in 2018, though Steckenrider at least posted an ERA under four.

Point is, the veteran’s experience blows them out of Key Biscayne.

Another massive positive that Romo brings is his low walk count facing batters, which has continued to be a strength of his throughout his career. In 2018, Romo issued just 20 walks, while Steckenrider and Guerrero both exceeded that number. The Marlins pitching staff overall was fourth-worst in MLB in giving up walks.

I should also mention, if it makes a more compelling argument, Romo struck out more batters (75) than any Miami reliever last year.

Not only has he been able to close out games in general, but he’s also been involved with winning franchises. The right-hander had an important role with the San Francisco Giants throughout their run of three World Series in five years. Even last season in Tampa, Romo was a big part why the Rays were able to surprisingly win 90 games in 2018.

Along with fellow recent veteran signees Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker, Romo brings a much-needed winning attitude to the Marlins. And just like Granderson, Romo is only a few years removed from having been named an All-Star.

One discouraging stat from Romo’s 2018 campaign that’ll need improving is 11 home runs allowed. Without the fastball velocity to blow the ball past hitters, his command needs to be precise, otherwise his mistakes will get crushed. The deep fences of Marlins Park should help limit the damage.

All in all, this is definitely one of the better moves Jeter and the front office has made this offseason. Whether Romo will eventually be used as trade bait in the summer or not, we can chalk this up as a victory right now for the Marlins, bringing in a respected veteran at a low financial risk.