This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: JoJo Romero
Stats: 4-2, 3 SV, 27 G, 36.2 IP, 29 H, 1 HR, 10 BB, 42 K, 3.68 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 1.064 WHIP, 0.6 bWAR
Statcast: 2.1% barrel, 31.9% sweet spot, 108.2 max exit velocity, .255 wOBA, .258 xwOBA, 28.6% K, 6.8% BB
When the Cardinals acquired Romero for Edmundo Sosa last season, it seemed like an exchange of spare parts. Then Sosa went on to be a semi-important part of the Phillies’ run to the World Series and it looked like John Mozeliak might have gotten short-changed in a deal again, though obviously not one with the import of Marcell Ozuna or Randy Arozarena. Sosa is still contributing in Philly but Romero started to even the scales out this season.
For someone that turned out to be a key part of the back end of the bullpen by the end of the season, Romero did his share of bouncing up and down. He didn’t get called up from Memphis until mid-April when Andre Pallente was sent down and then the two changed places again about three weeks later. Romero had been solid in limited innings before his demotion, though he had given up two runs to the Tigers in 1/3 of an inning in his most recent appearance. Still, sending him down didn’t make a lot of sense.
He dominated Memphis (33 strikeouts in 21 innings) and returned to St. Louis for the Fourth of July. With Ryan Helsley out, Jordan Hicks traded, and Giovanny Gallegos dealing with issues (like tipping pitches), Romero started to shift into the later innings, picking up his first save at the end of July and finishing nine of the 10 games he appeared in during August. He scuffled in his first September outing (three runs in 1.2 innings) and was placed on the IL soon afterwards, cutting his season short. However, his emergence as a strong late inning option sent him into the winter with his major league roster spot secure and anticipation circling his return.
I guess you could say he crushed it this year.
What’s in store for 2024: Romero was starting to improve even before the season ended and there seems no reason to think he won’t be ready to go when spring training begins. Barring some sort of trade from the back of the bullpen, something that doesn’t seem likely, he’ll probably take the seventh or eighth inning on the regular.