For openers, Rays can call Sergio

May 29, 2018 3:03 AM

Coming out of Brawley (Calif.) High, Sergio Romo went from a position player in high school to a top junior college pitcher, then a top Division II hurler before shunning the thought of joining the Army after getting drafted by the Giants in the 82nd round in 2005.

After finally reaching the majors in 2008, Romo developed into one of the most durable relievers in the majors and eventually became a postseason star, helping San Francisco win three World Series titles.

Romo was rewarded with a two-year, $15 million deal in 2014 but by 2017 the Dodgers signed him as a free agent for $3 million before trading him in July to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays re-signed Romo in 2018 for $2.5 million, but the Imperial Valley legend is making a new name for himself at The Trop.

Last week, Romo became the first pitcher since 1980 to start back-to-back games after pitching at least one inning. Tampa manager Kevin Cash has adopted a strategy of starting Romo in games when he is available, in part to protect a short bullpen, and maybe in part to keep a starter from seeing the lineup three times as he draws weary, allowing the crafty veteran to negotiate the top of the first frame, or even a batter or two in the second inning.

While gamblers have been quick to lament Cash’s approach, it doesn’t look like the experiment is necessarily going away soon, especially when facing right-handed heavy lineups against Romo’s slider.

On Friday against visiting Baltimore, Romo faced two hitters before Ryan Yarborough entered the game and pitched seven innings. Sergio came back to start on Sunday and the Rays won, 8-3, as a slight home favorite against the O’s, but was ineffective, allowing three earned runs, retiring just one hitter.

The scenario allowed Rays reliever Austin Pruitt to become the first pitcher to record a save of 5-plus innings since 2002.

Cardinals (EV, 8.5u15) at Brewers (Wed., 10:10): Top prospect Alex Reyes makes his ML debut for the Cardinals after striking out 44 batters in 23 innings on his rehab assignment off Tommy John Surgery. The Brewers have the NL’s best record and best bullpen, while the Cards’ bullpen is last in the NL. Junior Guerra has an ERA just under 3. MIL, 4-3

Reds (+200, 7.5) at D’backs (Wed., 12:40): Arizona dismal against right-handers at home, but Patrick Corbin has been a bit of a stopper with a 4-1 mark and a 2.03 ERA there. The Reds’ Sal Romano is 0-4 with a 7.66 ERA on the road, but day games in the desert averaging just 5.5 runs per game (six games). ARI, 4-2

Angels (-170, 8.5o20) at Tigers (Wed., 4:10): Shohei Ohtani makes his eighth start and is up 4.75 units for a team up over 10 units on the road. Mike Fiers has been the Tigers’ most profitable pitcher, up 3.5 units to-date, and rarely walks more than one batter per outing. Angels’ bullpen (3.66 ERA) has been pretty much a run better than Detroit’s. LAA, 5-4

Marlins (+105, 8.5o15) at Padres (Wed., 7:10): Jose Urena has been the major league’s biggest loser with an ERA over 6 as Miami has lost all 11 of his starts. Clayton Richard seems to find a fountain of youth for a few starts here and there and has a 4.08 ERA at home. Padres 2-4 in his home starts to date. SD, 5-4

Indians (-105, 8) at Twins (Thu., 5:10): Teams meet seven times in the next 18 days. Cleveland has been terrible against righties and has the worst bullpen in the majors. Jake Odorizzi has a 2.20 ERA at home, while Carlos Carrasco is 6-3 overall and carries a 2.91 ERA on the road. MIN, 5-3

Rangers (+160, 8.5) at Mariners (Thu., 7:10): Lefty Wade LeBlanc is looking for his first win on his ledger but is up 3.2 units so far for a Mariners team that excels in night games at Safeco. Rangers counter with lefty Mike Minor, who has an 8.38 ERA on the road, though slightly profitable (+1.25 units) overall. SEA, 5-3

Yankees (-170, 10) at Orioles (Fri., 4:05): Kevin Gausman represents O’s best chance to beat the Yanks in this series as all three of his wins have come at home, but consider Aaron Judge has hammered him for three homers in just 14 at-bats. Masahiro Tanaka is up four units in road night games. Yanks highly profitable on the road. NYY, 6-3

Phillies (-115, 8.5) at Giants (Fri. 7:15): Phils’ Nick Pivetta continues to rate as a strong buy, as evidenced by his 5.75 units profit, but exercise caution with his 5.82 road ERA. Giants’ Chris Stratton is one of the most profitable pitchers this season, up 7.35 units, but has been poor at home statistically with a 6.65 ERA. PHL, 5-4

A’s (-160, 8.5o20) at Royals (Sat., 11:15): Trevor Cahill doesn’t have a win to show for his last six starts and a 5.06 ERA on the road, but this spot should be fine for him. Royals have second-worst bullpen in AL. Jason Hammel is down -4.35 units and KC is 0-4 in his home starts. OAK, 5-3

Nationals (-108, 9u15) at Braves (Sat., 1:10): Hot series with NL East leaders, although Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. left Sunday’s game with a hyper-extended knee. Brandon McCarthy was up 3.75 units for Atlanta despite a 4.67 ERA overall heading into Monday’s game vs. the Mets. The Nats’ Gio Gonzalez took a 2.82 ERA into Monday’s road start at Baltimore. ATL, 5-4

Dodgers (-120, 10.5) at Rockies (Sat., 4:10): Dodgers’ Walker Buehler went seven innings, striking out eight in a win over San Diego on Sunday, as he’s allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts. Rocks’ German Marquez has a home ERA over 10, but got the money over Buehler in L.A., 2-1, on May 21, as both were strong over seven innings. LAD, 6-4

Cubs (-150, 8o20) at Mets (Sun., 10:10): Always pay a premium with the Cubs, but Jon Lester has turned the most profit on the staff, up just over three units heading into Tuesday’s start at Pittsburgh. The Mets’ Steven Matz has been their most profitable starter, profiting 4.25 units, but has a 5.40 ERA at home and allows a .364 average to this Chicago lineup. CUB, 4-3

Red Sox (+140, 7u20) at Astros (Sun., 4:35): Note early start, as unbelievable Charlie Morton with his 7-0 mark and 2.04 ERA was just up only close to two units entering start at Yankees and C.C. Sabathia on Tuesday. Boston’s Rick Porcello has a 6-2 record heading into Tuesday night’s home game with Toronto, but had allowed 17 earned runs in last 21 innings. HOU, 4-2