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Fishers' Romano aims to regain winning form

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 17. 2018 9:06PM

Fisher Cats starter Jordan Romano pitches during Thursday's game against Binghamton in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — You couldn’t have drawn up a better start to a season than the 9-0 run New Hampshire Fisher Cats starter Jordan Romano spun off in his first 10 starts of 2018.

All the success through the first two months of his initial foray through Double-A left Romano thinking the lumps he expected to take wouldn’t reveal themselves at all. The baseball gods, though, promptly quashed Romano’s positive outlook once the calendar flipped to June. The righty is 0-4 in eight starts since his last win on May 27, which came in a spot start for Triple-A Buffalo.

Monday’s no-decision in New Hampshire’s 4-2 win over the Trenton Thunder at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium was the first time in a month that Romano, 25, posted back-to-back quality starts, tossing 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball against the Thunder after holding Reading to one run over 6 1/3 innings in his prior start.

“When it all came down, I don’t think I realized how big of a valley it would be,” Romano said on Tuesday. “There was a stretch there where I’d have a bad start, an OK start and then another bad start. Coming out with two good starts is big for my mentality, knowing I’m out of this funk. (Monday) night was pretty close to as good as I’ve pitched all season.”

The tough month on the hill goes beyond wins and losses for the 27th-ranked prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system. Romano’s earned run average was 2.17 before the calendar flipped to June, where it ballooned to as high as 4.11. Opponents scored 28 runs (25 earned) off Romano across four starts in June, including three starts in which the righty allowed six or more earned runs.

“I wasn’t making good pitches with the command of my fastball,” Romano said. “Instead of keeping the ball down with my fastball, I was leaving them over the middle. It led to just getting hit around.”

In addition to improved pitch location, Romano said he and Fisher Cats pitching coach Vince Horsman have tinkered with his delivery over his last three starts, which has generated results Romano hasn’t seen since his strong start. Like he did with fellow New Hampshire starter Jon Harris, Horsman had Romano change the break point in his delivery as he now breaks from his belt instead of his head.

“Doing this has made everything about my mechanics more smooth,” Romano said. “I was rushing a lot with my body and was really late with my arm, which made the pitches up in the zone easier to hit. With my hands low now, I’m in sync more, on time and I’m making better pitches down in the zone.”

Righting the ship this month also called for the 6-foot, 4-inch 200-pounder from Markham, Ontario, to do some self-examination to rebuild his mentality.

“I kind of looked at myself and said ‘Hey, this is Double-A. I’m a good pitcher, but these guys are good hitters,’” Romano said. “If I’m not on my game, then I’m going to get beat. I’ve worked hard to get back to my game since and it’s really showing.”

The timing of Romano’s re-discovery could not be better as New Hampshire will need him atop his game as they enter the stretch run. Romano’s early consistency made him the early-season ace while Harris and TJ Zeuch have assumed lead duties as Romano found himself again.

The overall numbers for Romano still resemble those of an elite Double-A starter. He’s 8-4 with a 3.84 ERA with 87 strikeouts to just 35 walks over 98 1/3 innings for the Fisher Cats.

Now that the he is on track, Romano is looking forward to offering his club the reliability he showed at the season’s onset.

“It’s always nice when everyone is pitching well, but I pride myself on being that ace,” Romano said. “I like being that guy on the mound that my team can say ‘He’s on the mound … we’re going to win.’ Getting back there is important to me and I want the pressure on me. I need my teammates to know we’re going to win when I’m out there.”

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