If you could go back 4 years and tell folks that Ricky Romero would be our ace, you'd have gotten a lot of laughs. After being the 6th pick in the 2005 draft, Ricky didn't exactly burn up the minors. He's gone from being a draft pick bust, to being an example of how JP never picked players with high upsides, to being our ace, all in his first 3 seasons with the Jays.
Going into spring training in 2009, I don't think any of us had him figured to make the Jays rotation and yet he had a strong spring and became a big part of a surprisingly good pitching staff. He finished with a 13-9 record and a 4.30 ERA. Pretty good for a rookie in the AL East. Even with all that he didn't get any Rookie of the Year votes. He had a 2.4 WAR.
Neftali Feliz won the award with a 2.3 WAR but 40 saves. Of the 7 guys that got AL RoY votes, only Brian Matusz had a higher WAR and he only got 1 third place vote. Wrong year, Andrew Bailey was the winner, 3.9 WAR, 26 saves.
Last year he was a step better, 14-9 with a 3.73 ERA. He pitched 210 innings, allowed fewer hits (8.1/9 compared to 9.7/9 in 2009), walked fewer (3.5/9 from 4.0) and struck out more (7.5 from 7.1/9). He did lead the league in wild pitches with 18, but then it seemed out catchers couldn't block anything thrown their way.
This year, so far, has been an even bigger step forward. He has a 3.01 ERA. He is giving up fewer hits (7.6/9), fewer walks (3.2/9) and more strikeouts (8.2/9). Add in a current streak of 7 straight games going at least 7 innings, he's been everything an ace should be.
I guess it helps that he can throw in the low to mid 90's. Last year I thought his change up was his best pitch but this year he seems to be throwing the fastball a lot more. He had a great curve in his last start too.
Listening to Romero, you quickly see how focused he is and how important it is to him that he continues to improve. With his attitude I'm sure he'll be good starter for us for years to come. The Jays are confident in him too, he's under contract for $27.5 million over the next four seasons, with a team option for 2016 of $13.1 million.