There’s no news on the Blue Jays and their perfect match Bryce Harper, but Jon Heyman let us know that they’re one of the teams in the mix for “opener” Sergio Romo.
sergio romo, former closer and sometime opener, is said to be close to signing a 1 year deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 5, 2019
Blue Jays are among teams in on Sergio Romo as he moves close to a deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 6, 2019
Romo is best known for his time as a closer, most notably with the World Series Giants teams of the 2010s (he went from set-up guy to closer after Brian Wilson fell off a cliff), but last season he became Major League Baseball’s most famous opener. The opener is an experiment the low-budget moneyball Tampa Bay Rays fooled around with in which a reliever starts the game to face the other team’s best three batters, making life easier for their eventual starter.
In five “starts” for the Rays in 2018, Romo pitched 4 2/3 innings, scattering four eared runs. Three of those runs came in one outing in which he got spanked by the Baltimore Orioles and and three of his “starts” were clean.
Toronto’s new manager Charlie Montoyo who, of course, is very familiar with the things the Rays did last year, has suggested that the Jays will try the same thing. In the 55 games Tampa Bay used an opener, the team went 33-22 and the openers posted a 4.64 ERA.
“I was in charge of the shifting with the Rays and I saw that work, so I’m going to bring that to Toronto. The Opener – at the end of the day with the Opener, you have to have good pitching. If we have the right people to do it, we’re going to do it, because I saw it work. That’s the two things I’m going to bring from Tampa.” – Via Blue Jays Hunter
Sure, why not! I quite enjoy the opener thing, as I wrote about last year when it started happening, and it could be a nice way to help ease younger pitchers into the Major Leagues. At the very worst, adding a guy like Romo will give the Jays a one-year-deal pitcher to flip at the deadline for prospects.