Friday, May 21, 2010

Romo & Runzler... again

I remember the days of yesteryear... and by yesteryear, I mean like three weeks ago. Ah yes, three weeks ago, when our bullpen was still reliable, Mark DeRosa was just in a slump, and we had the great Freddy Sanchez's return to look forward to.

Now look at us. One night we give up 13 runs and score 1. The next, our ace gives up 5, is bailed out by a highly improbable offensive explosion, and our bullpen promptly gives it up again.

There were a handful of things that we as Giants fans could rely on: Solid to elite starting pitching from 4 out of 5 guys, a strong bullpen that wouldn't hurt us and certainly wouldn't lose games, and an predictably frustrating, yet scrappy offense.

It's true, we still don't score too many runs on a day to day basis, and it's an ongoing problem, but we used to be sure that if we were blessed with more runs than the other team in any given 7th inning, that we'd probably win that game. It was just that way.

Now. I don't know. I've quickly lost confidence in a once Ironman suit-solid bullpen. Every time a starter comes out of the game, and I see one of these guys coming trotting in from the outfield, I feel the same progressive emotions: distrust, disgust, anger, and nausea.

Sure it could be just a run of bad luck for these guys, but it seems to have been going on for a fair amount of time. Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler are especially upsetting. I'd generally keep Billy Mota's name out of it, because he only seems to give up runs when the other guys are giving up runs. Otherwise he doesn't, and he's been an incredible Sabean gem in general. Obviously he's easily influenced by the actions around him. Mix in Affeldt's string of bad performances (until a week ago), Brandon Medders's 7.20 ERA, and a few Brian Wilson "heart attack saves" and we've got a fine mess on our hands.

It certainly isn't as bad overall as I'm making it seem, as Billy Mota, Wilson, and Affeldt have been good, and I'm usually the biggest optimist out of the 13,319 Giants blogs on the internet, but in this case, I have to skewer Romo and Runzler for a little while. It's like therapy.

Runzler, perhaps due to a lack of minor league seasoning, does not do well in high leverage situations-- or seemingly any situations lately. His biggest issue is walking guys and an overall lack of command.

You need not look any further into stats than his WHIP, which is 1.59. Yes, for those of you not used to looking at WHIPs, that is waaaaay too high for either a fantasy pitcher or a real one. Yep, a 7.16 BB/9 rate will do that to you. Also interesting is that of the 288 pitches he's thrown this year, 122 were balls. Yeah, that's almost half. Not cool Runz.

The guy hasn't given up a ton of big hits, but his specialty seems to be adding guys to the basepaths and making a hasty exit. Still, his 4.96 ERA is not pretty.

Romo is the perfect complement to Runzler. I believe after the Mets series, I called these two the "anti-win squad". Runzler comes in, walks guys on base and Romo let's them score. It's sick. What is this? Co-Dependency? No? Well, it's gotta be something.

Romo's troubles stem from a flat breaking ball and a severe loss of all confidence. Many have speculated that his arm angle makes it easier for batters to see the ball coming out of his hand. I believe that his best pitch, his slider, just grooves in way too easily into a lefty's wheelhouse. It's really hard to say based on stats alone, because Romo's ineffectiveness cannot be found in his numbers.

This is the craziest set of stats I've ever seen... bear with me.

3.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.00 K/9, .194 batting avg. against

Wait, what? Are you kidding me? That can't be right.

But it is! It's insane! Here's a guy that I wanted to send to AAA last night, and look at those stats. They're... good.

You've got to dig a little deeper. He's got 3 blown saves, has allowed countless inherited runners to score, and has given up 3 huge dongs in only 18 innings. As I recall, each of those dongs were huge. These innuendos doing anything for you?

I'm trying to find some sort of statistical tidbit to explain why we've lost confidence in Romo and why we can't stand him, and I just can't. I mean, he walks lefties at a way higher rate, after 15 pitches his ERA skyrockets to 12.00 (meaning he's not working his way out of jams), and his road stats are markedly awful.

Romo's away numbers: 7.2 IP, 6 ER, 7.04 ERA, 1.57 WHIP

Look, that's all I've got. My advice to Bochy: Do not pitch Romo on the road against a lefty-heavy lineup with any inherited runners. Good? Good.

I keep harping on this article I wrote prior to the season about Romo & Runzler being keys to the bullpen's success. I do so because that gives me some sort of W-list Giants celebrity credit, but because these two guys are basically failing on a regular basis, and the entire team is suffering.

They are both talented dudes fully capable of great things. We've seen it, we know it's there. We just need to see it more often.

Go Sharks!


  1. I'm not too worried about these two. Romo went through a bad stretch last year too, but he picked it up and ended up finishing the year well. As for Runzler, well...he is still young. I mean, just last year he was in San Jose at the beginning of the year. Control has always been a problem, and I think it still will be one as he continues to get used to the Majors.

    Two stats really jump at me for both guys:

    1.) Romo's 1.50 HR/9 (home runs allowed per nine innings).
    2.) Runzler's 83.3 percent contact rate.

    I find these two stats concerning because they could be flukish or telling. For Romo's stat, his HR/9 rate was 0.26. Granted, I think one reason he's giving up more big flies is the fact that he's throwing his fastball too much (54 percent, he only threw it 50 percent last year). His money pitch is his slider. Anyways, I don't think he'll have a HR/9 rate of 0.26 again, but I don't think he'll have a 1.50 HR/9 rate much longer.

    As for Runzler, he had a 75.4 contact rate last year, so the spike is concerning, especially considering striking guys out is such a strength of his. He's got a great fastball (it averages 93.7 MPH), but unless he develops a better second and third pitch, I don't think he'll be anything more than a left-handed Brian Wilson (which isn't necessarily a bad thing by the way).

  2. Hey my name is Yve Runzler, i am from germany..i have heard that we are part of one family..i dont know how to get in contact with you, so i try it that way..greetings..