Philadelphia Phillies: JoJo Romero’s importance keeps on rising

Philadelphia Phillies LHP JoJo Romero is a crucial piece to the team.

It wasn’t the prettiest of outings for JoJo Romero tonight, but it was a very crucial one. The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen has been an absolute disaster all season long (I think that goes without saying at this point in time), and Romero is about the last shot the team has at having a singular promising arm moving forward.

A fourth-round pick by the Phillies back in 2016, Romero quickly became one of the more exciting prospects in the team’s farm system. He won the Phillies “Minor League Pitcher of the Year” in 2016, dazzling with high strikeout numbers and consistent starts. He wrapped up the minors having played in all three levels, finishing with a 3.69 ERA across four years.

Despite operating primarily as a starter in the minor leagues, Romero was called up to the Philadelphia Phillies main roster to act as a reliever. Joe Girardi and the Phils haven’t been able to find a single bullpen arm they can trust here in 2020, so Romero was quickly thrusted into a role as a high-leverage lefty.

What was most surprising about Romero during his MLB debut was the velocity at which he was throwing at. He entered in clipping pitches at 97-98 mph, a considerable increase from what was initially expected. Some of this could be attributed to changing to a reliever role, allowing him to exert all of his energy in short spurts as opposed to having to stretch himself out as a stater.

Entering into Saturday night’s game against the Marlins, Romero possessed a 3.00 ERA and a 0.667 WHIP through seven separate outings. Outside of the one rough showing against the Mets on September 7th, Romero has been fairly solid for the Phillies thus far. His ERA and WHIP are some of the lowest in the entire bullpen, and he actually has a decent amount of “stuff” to work with.

Like previously mentioned, Romero didn’t have the prettiest of games during his outing against the Marlins tonight. He pitched 1.1 innings, gave up three hits, and allowed two runs (only one was earned).

However, it’s really hard to be upset at Romero at this point in time. At just 24 years old he’s emerged as one of the Philadelphia Phillies best overall bullpen pieces, and one would hope that he’s only going to get better. With Jose Alvarez injured, and guys like Ranger Suarez and Adam Morgan proving to be unreliable this year, Romero truly is the best left-handed option that Girardi can utilize at the moment.

There’s still going to be some growing pains with Romero moving forward, he’s young and inexperienced. However, this season is going to prove to be an absolutely crucial one for his development and growth. The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen struggles aren’t exclusive to this season, as they struggled with it last year and project to struggle with it again in 2021. Having Romero learn and grow this year, and then mold into an elite lefty option for next season is absolutely crucial.