In his heyday, Sergio Romo was the talk of the town. At least, he was the talk of my town. A metaphorical town that was more accurately my college baseball locker room. Amidst non-Seattleites for the first time in my conscious life, my many Bay Area-based compatriots inundated me with discussion of El Mechón. The discussion was volatile, as talking through topics as mercurial as relief pitching are prone to be. Some days, he was the glue, a dominant righty specialist who has just two seasons of his 14-year career wherein he’s thrown more innings than games he’s appeared in. Other times, his limitations were exasperating, seeing him caught out in a key moment against a lefty. Yet the man ultimately has the loyalty of legions of San Francisco Giants fans for three little reasons: 2010, 2012, and 2014.
The Seattle Mariners won’t be receiving that version of Romo, obviously. The 39 year old righty is in the twilight of his career, a fastball that at its firmest skimmed 90 mph now sits closer to 85-87, now mostly with sink where it once was split between two seams and four. The famous, beautiful slider still slips in in the upper-70s, and lest he be maligned as an elderly canine, he’s incorporated a changeup more in recent years to keep all hitters honest, but it’s slider first, all else after. That slider remains quality.
There will be genuine opportunity for contribution in the AL West race for Romo, particularly with recent injuries to Ken Giles (short-term) and Casey Sadler (season-ending). The good-natured righty is plenty familiar with many of the faces he’ll face off against in the coming months, having spent 2021 in Kelly Green with the Athletics. His familiarity also shone through as he noted his former club struggled with beating Seattle last year, quipping that “if you can’t beat them, join them!”. The value Romo provides to Seattle’s bullpen will hopefully be reasonable. The value the club likely hopes he’ll provide is more discarnate.
The “Even Year Magic” of the early 2010s Giants was a harmless (except to Rangers, Tigers, and Royals fans) example of the phenomena known as apophenia, a propensity in human beings to find and seek patterns in numbers. It is one of humanity’s more challenging traits, as we so often seek meaning in things we cannot fully define or quantify. The ability for Romo to impart his wisdom, utilize his experience to both directly assist Seattle in his outings and more intangibly help cultivate good habits and mentalities among his particularly youthful teammates. No member of the Mariners organization has been to the World Series as often as Romo, and none of course in Seattle’s uniform. It will not be his responsibility to change that, but to find a way to get the club closer is a worthy goal, however that may be.