Cincinnati Reds: Sal Romano gains second chance to make the roster

Sal Romano was designated for assignment after the signing of Pedro Strop. Surprisingly, the Cincinnati Reds have offered Romano an invite to spring camp.

Big Sally is back. Surprisingly, the Cincinnati Reds outrighted Sal Romano to Triple-A on Tuesday after the right-hander cleared waivers. Romano was designated for assignment following the signing or reliever Pedro Strop. Romano showed some promise during the 2017 season, but the last two seasons haven’t offered the same results.

It’s strange that the 6’5″ passed through waivers. After all, Romano is capable of touching the upper-90s on the radar gun. Being out of minor-league options, it wasn’t terribly surprising that Romano was cut loose last week, as his spot on the roster seemed precarious at best. After a busy offseason, spots on the 40-man roster are going to be hard to come by this season.

After being used as a starter throughout the majority of his professional career, Big Sally made the transition to reliever last season. With the influx of talent added to the roster last winter, a spot in the starting rotation was not in the cards. The additions of Tanner Roark, Sonny Gray and Alex Wood made it difficult for Romano to crack the rotation.

Instead, along with former starter Cody Reed, Romano was designated for the bullpen. In 43 appearances for Triple-A Louisville last season, including 5 starts, Romano went 4-8 with a 4.28 ERA, striking out 76 batters. He wasn’t able to see that same level of production in the bigs. In 12 games for the Reds in 2019, Romano went 16.1 innings, put up 17 strikeouts and a 7.71 ERA.

Sal Romano is a talented pitcher. However, since the 2015, Romano’s ground ball-rate has gradually increased. According to FanGraphs, in 2015, while playing for Advanced-A Daytona, Romano’s ground ball-rate was 57.8%. That, coupled with a 7.6% walk-rate while playing for the Tortugas was what got Romano noticed in the first place.

But since his time in Daytona, Romano’s ground ball-rate has gone down and his walk-rate has gone up. Romano’s ground ball-rate during his first year in the bigs was a respectable 50.4%, but during his 12 games in the majors last season, Romano’s ground ball-rate was a dismal 38.5%. Add to that a 10.4% walk-rate, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.

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I’m happy to see that Sal Romano cleared waivers, as he will likely add depth to the Cincinnati Reds minor league pitching staff. If Big Sally wants to return to the big leagues, a solid showing this spring and keeping the ball in the ballpark will go a long way towards his return.

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