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A Little Historical Perspective on Ricky

Today in Jays History from

1990 Dave Stieb pitches the major league record ninth no-hitter of the season beating the Indians 3-0. Previously, the Blue Jay right-hander had lost three no-hit bids after two outs were recorded in the ninth.

2012 Ricky Romero pitched one inning and was obliterated by the Rays for 8 hits, 7 runs and 1BB.

So why am I bringing this up?

Dave Stieb was the franchise from 1981 to 1985. Historian John Thorn wrote about Dave Stieb in his book on pitching that he should have won four Cy Young Awards in a row (like Felix Hernandez did in 2010) based on the primitive forms of SABRmetrics. His Bref-WAR for those five years was 4.3 (Strike shortened), 7.3, 6.6, 7.6 and 6.5 (32.4 Bref-WAR total.)

In 1985, Stieb record was 14-13 with a 2.48 ERA, 265 IP and an ERA+ of 174. He came 7th (!!!!) in Cy Young voting in 1985.

In 1986, Dave Stieb's record was 7-14 with a 4.74 ERA, 205 IP and an ERA+ of 89. His Bref-WAR? -0.4 Bref-WAR.

People wondered what happened to the guy who posted sub 3 ERAs with 250 IP. His fastball was fine. His slider was still one of the most feared in the AL, but the batters seemed to be laying off it and sitting dead red fastball. It was tough to watch a guy who was so fierce, intense, competitive and dominant to suddenly lose it. It got so bad that Jimy Williams put Stieb in the bullpen for a couple of games. There were times where he was the old brilliant Stieb and then the very next game he would get lit up.

In 1987, Dave Stieb went 13-9 with a 4.09 ERA and 185 IP and an ERA+ of 111.

What happened? One, it turned out Dave Stieb was burned out by the workload of throwing 250IP a season and the Jays needed to manage his workload better. Two, he developed a slow curve and circle change to mix up with his still decent fastball and wipe out slider.

I'm not saying that RRCJ is Dave Stieb and unlike the Jays of old, they haven't burned out the guy with a killer workload. RRCJ still has his stuff. When it is good, it still works. The problem I suspect is that hitters and scouts have caught on to RRCJ's pitching patterns and stuff. This means that Ricky is going to have to readjust to the league and maybe learn a new pitch. It was the use of the circle change and slow curve that made Stieb a decent and occasionally brilliant pitcher during the Jays runs of 1987-1991 and led to him getting that elusive no-no 22 years ago.

Batters adjust and so must Ricky.