The 2021 Phillies bullpen was slightly better than its 2020 counterpart, but one of the things this team desperately needed was a reliable reliever who could come in and stop bleeding. Romero could have been that guy, and showed capability at times. However, his season was cut short when he had Tommy John surgery in May.
9 IP, 1.778 WHIP, 8 K, 4 BB, 4 HR, 7.00 ERA, -0.4 fWAR
The first good news is that Romero’s surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, one of the more notable surgeons who performs this operation. Dr. ElAttrache’s patients have an 84% return rate to the Major League level.
As for his performance this season: The numbers don’t look great, but his seven earned runs in nine innings doesn’t look great. However, five of those runs were compounded into back-to-back appearances where he was clearly not at his best. Remove those two appearances, and Romero only surrendered two earned runs in eight innings. This is still an extremely small sample size, however it better represents the scope of his eleven appearances.
Having a season end due to a serious injury is always bad, especially one with the reputation and rehabilitation that Tommy John has.
Additionally, in the limited time he had before injury, Romero did have a few outings that were less than desirable. As discussed above, five of his earned runs came in back-to-back appearances on April 14 and 17. Those five runs, which included three home runs, came in just one combined inning of work. Because of the small sample size, it’s unclear if those appearances were indicative of the type of pitcher he is or if they were simply flukes.
Rehab for Tommy John usually takes at least a year, which means Romero is out until mid-season in 2022 at the earliest. He is under team control through 2023, with three years of arbitration after.
Final Grade: F
It’s impossible to actually tell what kind of season Romero would have had if not for the Tommy John surgery in May. Unfortunately, these grades are based on what actually happened rather than what could have happened. While the injury was beyond his control, Romero’s nine-inning season was still a failure.