SAN FRANCISCO — At the start of this month, Sergio Romo looked headed for his second All-Star game. On Sunday, he was removed from the closer role.
A day after Romo blew his third save in his last five chances, manager Bruce Bochy met with the struggling right-hander and told him the Giants would go with a committee in the ninth inning. For the most part, it’s a committee of two: Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt.
Romo was told he would help get the final six outs instead of the final three, and he could see time in the seventh inning if the matchup calls for it.
“Sometimes you’ve got to change things,” Bochy said. “Sometimes it’s good for the player. Back him off and let him catch his breath.”
Romo said he doesn’t need to pitch the ninth to contribute.
“It is what it is,” he said after a 4-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. “I’m going to get a chance, and when I get a chance I’m going to be ready to rock.”
Bochy said he’s not sure how long the current arrangement will last. Day 1 didn’t go well, although the Giants didn’t have a save situation. Affeldt entered in a one-run game and gave up three hits and two earned runs in a third of an inning. Still, he has a 1.98 ERA. Casilla has not given up a hit in five appearances since coming off the disabled list June 15 and got two outs Sunday to lower his ERA to 1.15.
Affeldt has 28 career saves; Casilla has 40, most of which came in 2012 when he replaced Brian Wilson. A blister derailed Casilla’s run that season, and Romo took over as closer, eventually throwing the final pitch of the World Series.
He’s a far cry from that pitcher these days, regularly hanging his signature slider. Romo threw six of them to Brandon Phillips late Saturday night, and the final one was crushed over the left-field fence for a go-ahead two-run homer.
Romo had only five blown saves last season while making his first All-Star game, but he has five already this season. He has allowed six homers, tying his career-high, and is 0-3 with a 10.64 ERA in his last 12 appearances. Romo entered June with 17 saves in 19 chances and a 3.52 ERA. Romo’s ERA is now 5.17, and opponents are hitting .455 off him in the past five games, repeatedly pounding his slider.
“You can go back and look at pitch sequences where he gets a little predictable, but with Sergio, I think it’s fair to say most teams know he’s going with his slider,” Bochy said. “It’s his bread and butter. Recently, particularly when innings get stretched out, he’s making mistakes.”
Bochy said the hypercompetitive Romo took the news well.
“He was fine. I’m sure it wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but he’s a team guy,” Bochy said. “I just think it’s time to lighten the load a little bit.”