Cincinnati Reds: Sal Romano is a dark horse to make the starting rotation

DENVER, CO - MAY 25: Sal Romano #47 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field on May 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Mahoney/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MAY 25: Sal Romano #47 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field on May 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Mahoney/Getty Images) /
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Sal Romano started last season in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation, but was demoted to the bullpen. Does “Big Sally” have an outside chance to be a starter?

The Cincinnati Reds started 2018 with high hopes for Sal Romano. The 6’5″ right-hander was one of the Reds’ top prospects earlier in his career. He finished 2017 on a high note, seemingly showing a lot of promise for the next season. Unfortunately, he was unable to live up to these expectations. What can we expect from Romano in 2019?

“Big Sally” finished last season with career worsts in just about every statistical category. Romano went 8-11 with a 5.31 ERA in 39 games, including 25 starts. In August and September, the team essentially gave up on him being a starter, and opted to give new arms like Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson more starts, pushing Romano to the bullpen.

If Romano was hoping to reclaim his spot in the rotation, the Cincinnati Reds’ offseason pitching acquisitions make it seem all but impossible. One of Romano’s biggest flaws last season was giving up home runs. The native New Yorker allowed 23 balls to leave the yard. A 25-year-old with a career 4.99 ERA is unlikely to beat out veteran pitchers like Sonny Gray and Alex Wood for one of the five starting spots.

Instead of trying to fight for a rotation spot, he will likely spend Spring Training refining himself to be a reliever. As a starter, he has to work on building stamina for long outings. However, as a reliever, he can focus on just giving his best pitches for one inning and trying to dominate opposing hitters.

Teammates Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen are recent examples of Reds players that began their careers as starting pitchers and later became relief pitchers. Both Garrett and Lorenzen have made successful transitions to the bullpen. In 2018, they were two of the most dominant relievers on the team. Garrett even said that he’s happy in his bullpen role. Romano has a great chance to join them in 2019 and might go the same way.

Next. Predicting the Reds starting five

When Spring Training starts later this month, keep an eye out for how the Cincinnati Reds use Sal Romano. At this point, his role is a bit of a mystery. The team may give him some opportunities to start, but they could just as easily ask him to come out of the bullpen. It will be interesting to see what happens.