J.C. Romero: A Simple Thing Made Extremely Difficult

If baseball players were only allowed to bat left handed, then J.C. Romero would be one of the best relief pitchers in the game. Against lefties this season (prior to last night's game), Romero has posted a 1.84 FIP and a 2.20 xFIP and has struck out 11.37 batters per 9 innings. All of this is excellent. 

Thankfully, but perhaps unfortunately for J.C. Romero, the game has been integrated since 1947. Which is to say: right handed batters ARE allowed in Major League Baseball. 

J.C. Romero is horrible against righties. If you are reading this post with children or the otherwise faint of heart present, I urge you to ask them to leave. What I am about to show you is extremely graphic and could be disturbing to some readers. 

7.52, 2.00, 8.00. That is Romero's xFIP, K/9, and BB/9, respectively, against righties this season. 

More intelligent people than I have been pointing out for some time now that, when used properly, Romero has a lot of value to this team. As anyone smart enough to know not to eat the silicon packets that come in shoeboxes can ascertain from the above data (J.C. ROMERO GOOD AGAINST LEFTIES, J.C. ROMERO REALLY REALLY BAD AGAINST RIGHTIES), properly using Romero would involve using him almost exclusively against lefties--or as a "LOOGY," as it is known in the parlance. 

Apparently this is abundantly clear to every single person in the western hemisphere except for the one person who has absolute, dictatorial power to determine when J.C. Romero is used. That person is, of course, Our Fearless Manager Charlie Manuel. Before last night's game, J.C. Romero had faced 26 left handed batters and 43 right handed batters. And then last night, a 7-0 laugher was made unnecessarily close, in part, because Romero was left in the game to face two righties (after walking the first batter he faced; a lefty). 

The lesson here is that on his own Charlie Manuel cannot be expected to use Romero in a way that maximizes his value and limits the amount of damage he is able to do. All of our fantasies about him being deployed almost exclusively against lefties are moot. The fact that Romero is good against lefties is little more than an airy abstraction, because in practice Manuel has shown an impressive aptitude for using him in exactly the way he shouldn't be used. This pattern of improper usage predates this season, too. From 2008 through 2010, Romero faced 240 lefties and 259 righties. Romero has never been good against righties, for his career he has a 5.41 xFIP against them. At this point, it is not something that continuing to pitch to them can heal.

Something needs to change. If Manuel cannot make what should be an obvious adjustment to how he uses Romero on his own, he should be instructed to do so by his direct superior. If he refuses to comply, then (as I said elsewhere) for the same reason we do not let children have guns, Ruben Amaro should not let Charlie Manuel have JC Romero on his roster. 

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