Romero's cutter retires record number of batters

Romero's cutter retires record number of batters

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon constantly stayed after David Price to quit using his cutter when he pitched for the Rays. Like Price, Enny Romero is left-handed and equipped with the big fastball. He, too, uses the cutter from time to time.

The former Rays manager's stance with Price was simple: His fastball was his best pitch, and his cutter was just a bad fastball.

Ramirez's fastball touches 99 mph, and according to PITCHf/x, he has averaged 96.2 mph on his fastball this season. That number ties him for first in the American League with left-handed relievers, and he ranks sixth among all AL relievers.

So why does Romero use a cutter? His cutter comes in at approximately 90 mph. Is Romero simply throwing a bad fastball?

Romero doesn't think so.

"One year [in the Minor Leagues], I lost my fastball and picked up the cutter," Romero said. "Now I don't use [the cutter] that much, but it gives me a different look [to throw at hitters]."

Whatever Romero has been doing has been working well. He retired the first 17 batters he faced in his first five appearances of the season. Brett Gardner broke the streak during Saturday afternoon's 3-2 loss to the Yankees when he singled to start the sixth. Romero then retired the next three hitters in order, striking out Alex Rodriguez to end the inning.

Romero's 17 retired batters streak to begin the season established the longest streak to begin a season in Rays history. Given Romero's success, don't look for Romero to put away his cutter any time soon.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.