Statcast Breakdown: Fernando Romero’s First Two Starts
Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsNot only has Romero not given up any runs, but neither the Blue Jays nor the Cardinals have really come all that close. In the two starts, Romero has allowed just one baserunner to reach third base, and even that was with two outs in the inning.
We have been hearing a lot about Fernando Romero’s excellent stuff for the past couple of years, but now that we can see that it plays at the major league level, it gives us a whole new perspective.
Another benefit of Romero pitching in the majors is we get access to his Statcast data that isn’t publicly available for minor league players. So, let’s look at that data to see if we can get a better understanding of Romero’s pitches.
Fernando Romero’s two-seam fastball has been electric. The combination of high velocity and extreme arm-side run that the pitch has is giving opposing hitters troubles.
Here is a two-seamer that he threw in the Toronto start. As you can see this pitch starts out over the heart of the plate but ends up six-inches off the plate inside.
One downside to Romero’s two-seamer having so much movement, is it makes the pitch hard for him to control. So far, Romero is throwing the pitch for a strike just over 58 percent of the time. He is getting away with that for now, but once MLB hitters start to adjust Romero will need to become more consistent with that pitch.
Romero has also shown that he favors his two-seamer when facing right-handed batters. Against righties, Romero has thrown his two-seamer 50 percent of the time, while that number drops off to just 24 percent of the time when facing left-handed hitters.
In addition to a two-seam fastball, Fernando Romero also features a four-seam fastball. As you might expect, his four-seam doesn’t have as much run as the two-seamer. This makes it easier for him to control, as you can see by his strike percentage being 10 percent higher.
While Romero clearly prefers the two-seam fastball when he is facing right-handed hitters, it appears that he slightly favors the four-seamer against left-handed hitters as he throws it 33 percent of the time, as opposed to just 22 percent of the time against righties.
According to the expected stats generated by Statcast, Romero’s four-seam fastball has been his most effective pitch so far, as his expected batting average, expected slugging percentage and expected weighted on-base average against his four-seamer are all the lowest of any of his pitches. This is mostly due to the 74 MPH average exit velocity hitters are getting off it, easily the lowest mark of his four pitches.
In addition to his high velocity fastball, Romero also features a nasty slider. Much like Romero’s two-seam fastball, it is his slider’s combination of both high velocity and movement that makes it so deadly.
The slider’s 87.1 MPH average velocity ranks in the 81st percentile among sliders in the majors, with a majority of those ranked above him coming from relievers. Additionally, Romero has an average spin rate of 2466 RPM on his slider, which ranks in the 67th percentile among sliders in the majors this season. That effective combination is what has led to opposing hitters making contact just 41 percent of the time when they swing at it.
Here is a look at just how nasty Romero’s slider is.
The final pitch in Romero’s repertoire is his changeup. The pitch is already causing some debate among Twins fans centered around its high velocity. Usually you would like to see a seven MPH or greater difference between a pitcher’s fastball and changeup velocity. However, Romero’s average difference is just 5.3 MPH. Overall, his average changeup velocity ranks second among pitchers who have thrown at least 10 so far this season and is 0.6 MPH faster than Noah Syndergaard’s.
Increasing the gap between his fastball and changeup velocity is something Romero is going to need to work on in order to keep hitters off balance and have any sustained success with that pitch. In the mean time we can be in awe of a 92 MPH pitch that moves like this.
However, the thing that makes Romero’s changeup so nasty isn’t the velocity, but it’s the spin rate, or should I say lack thereof. When it comes to spin rate, it is usually only discussed regarding a pitcher having a high rate of spin on either a fastball or on a breaking pitch, but the truth is the spin rate on a changeup can be just as important.
Unlike high velocity fastballs and breaking pitches, however, for a changeup the goal is to have as little spin as possible. This gives the pitch the sharp downward movement as it approaches the plate because the ball doesn’t have as much backspin keeping it in the air.
The average spin rate on Romero’s changeup sits at just above 1600 RPM, which is roughly 200 RPM below the average major league changeup. Hopefully, this is sometime that will continue as time progresses, as it will be an important pitch for Romero to get left-handed hitters out.
It is safe to say that Fernando Romero’s stuff is filthy, and we didn’t need the Statcast information to tell us that. But that doesn’t take away from the fun of seeing a Twins pitcher who has the potential to top so many of the Statcast leaderboards for years to come.
All Data is Courtesy of Baseball Savant.
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