Hard-throwing reliever Romero will get another chance in 2018

As we transition into offseason mode here, we’re reviewing each significant player on the Nationals roster. We continue today with Enny Romero, who had an up-and-down first season in Washington ...

PLAYER REVIEW: ENNY ROMERO

Age on opening day 2018: 27

How acquired: Traded from Rays for Jeffrey Rosa, February 2017

MLB service time: 2 years, 72 days

2017 salary: $551,000

Contract status: Under team control in 2018, arbitration-eligible in 2019, free agent in 2022

2017 stats: 2-4, 3.56 ERA, 53 G, 2 SV, 55 2/3 IP, 55 H, 26 R, 22 ER, 7 HR, 23 BB, 65 SO, 3 HBP, 1.401 WHIP, 0.3 WAR

Quotable: “The thing I like about him is he has shown he can throw his breaking ball 3-2 or behind in the count to get them off his fastball. It’s my understanding they had taken that pitch almost away from him in his last stop. So his ability to do that, his confidence level is high. I think that the WBC really helped him to control the nerves. If you can pitch there, you can pitch anywhere under any circumstances. He’s been very impressive.” - Dusty Baker on Romero, March 23

2017 analysis: Acquired shortly before the start of spring training, Romero was an unknown in Nationals camp, but an intriguing unknown. And because he was out of options, the club almost had no choice but to put him in the bullpen to begin the season.

Romero-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpgThe hard-throwing left-hander showed why he was worth the risk several times during the course of the year. With a fastball that averaged 98.1 mph, he was an imposing force on opposing hitters - when he could keep the ball over the plate and down in the zone. Romero’s down stretches were rough - he put 16 of the first 39 batters he faced on base, then had another stretch later when he put 20 of 53 on base - but his good stretches were impressive.

After spending most of August on the disabled list with a strained forearm, Romero finished strong with a 1.08 ERA and .498 OPS against in September. He made the postseason bullpen but never did make an appearance during the National League Division Series.

2018 outlook: The Nationals saw enough from Romero this season to want him to be part of the mix again next season, but they’ll also need him to show more consistency.

As hard as he throws, Romero has a tendency to leave his fastball up and over the plate. And because it doesn’t have a ton of movement, that made it awfully hittable at times. (He surprisingly gave up seven homers in only 55 2/3 innings.) The Nationals encouraged him to try to perfect his slider during the course of the year, but that pitch remains a work in progress. He needs to be able to throw it with enough confidence to keep hitters off-balance, though, because he gets into trouble when they can sit on his fastball.

The Nationals won’t be giving up on Romero anytime soon. He’s a legitimate weapon for them, at a position in which they need one. It’s up to him to prove he deserves to become a permanent fixture in this bullpen.

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