In the usual play book of Spring Training cliches, the first is the best shape of their life story and then it is the pitchers learning a new pitch.
This season, the guy who has claimed to have learned a new pitch is Sergio Romo. He spent some time with Jeremy Affeldt, who showed him how to throw his sinking fastball that he has used to get the Giants out of tough spots in the last two seasons.
From the Chronicle:
Romo has developed a sinker using a grip that Affeldt taught him just before spring training. Romo retired his first hitter, Montero, on a sinker grounded to first.I guess Romo was feeling too predictable and after giving up a few high profile home runs on his slider this season and during the playoffs, he wanted something that he could keep on the ground and induce ground balls.
"I walked up to Affeldt in the training room, shook his hand and said, 'Thank you very much,' " said Romo, who believes an effective sinker will allow him to "save some bullets" by getting more grounders early in the count. He knew after last season he had to perfect another pitch.
"I'm at that point in my career where everybody's looking for the slider," he said. "That's my pitch. I don't want to get caught having to throw it."
If he uses it to keep batters off balance, that is a nice addition to his repertoire. I just have concerns that this will mess with his awesome peripheral stats. Romo has been a beast of a relief pitcher. He's managed a strikeout rate of over 10/9 while keeping the walks in check at around 2/9, all without the over-powering fastball (only 88.7 mph) that is usually the norm for elite relievers.
Romo lives in the shadow of the other bearded reliever in the Giants bullpen, but he is just as key to making the bullpen one of the best in the majors. He pitches in some of the highest leverage spots that are not the last 3-4 outs of the game. If this new pitch makes him a better pitcher and keeps the batters off balance, I am all for it.
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