Top 20 Volcanoes players of all time: #6 Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo played in San Francisco for nine seasons and helped the Giants win three World Series titles (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images).

At #6 on the Keizertimes list of the 20 greatest Volcanoes players of all time is right-handed relief pitcher Sergio Romo. Romo has played in the big leagues for five different teams over 13 seasons and won three World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants.

Romo’s unconventional three-quarters delivery has helped him become one of the best relief pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB) over the last decade. Romo mostly relies on his slider, but also adds in an effective fastball, sinker and changeup.

Romo grew up in California and attended Brawley Union High School, where he was a standout on the baseball team. After receiving no offers to play at a four-year college, Romo planned on enlisting into the U.S. Navy, but then elected to attend junior college.

In his second year at Arizona Western College, Romo went 16-4 with a 2.79 ERA and was named second-team All-Region for the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in 2003.

Romo spent his final two years of college baseball playing at a pair of Division II schools. In his junior year at North Alabama University, Romo went 10-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 97.1 innings and was named first-team All-Gulf Coast Conference. In 2005, Romo transferred to Mesa State and was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Romo was picked up by the Giants in the 28th round of the 2005 MLB Draft and began his professional career with the Volcanoes. Despite being drafted so late, Romo quickly proved to be one of the top prospects in the Giants system.

Used as a starter, Romo led the Northwest League in wins (seven) and had a 2.75 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 68.2 innings with the Volcanoes.

Romo continued to have success in 2006 with the Augusta GreenJackets, recording a 10-2 record with a 2.53 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. He was promoted to advanced A-ball in San Jose in 2007 and was transitioned to the bullpen, where he proved to be even more valuable. In 41 relief appearances, Romo went 6-2 with a 1.36 ERA and 106 strikeouts and nine saves in 66.1 innings.

Romo ended his tenure with San Jose with a mark of 14.38 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, which was fourth best in all of Minor League Baseball. named Romo the Class A Advanced Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2007 after he helped San Jose win the California League title.

After beginning the 2008 season in Double-A, Romo was called up by the Giants on June 24, 2008. He made his big league debut out of the bullpen two days later and struck out two batters in an inning of work.

Despite posting an ERA of 2.35 in 15 appearances, Romo was sent back down to the minors on Aug. 6, but was recalled 10 days later. In 34 innings of work, Romo posted a 3-1 record with a 2.12 ERA.

Romo was forced to miss the first two months of the 2009 season due to an elbow strain, but still managed to have a great start to his year. He picked back-to-back wins out of the bullpen on June 19-20, and recorded his first MLB save on July 7.

Romo ended the 2009 season with a 5-2 record and a 3.97 ERA in 45 appearances. He was one of only eight National League (NL) relievers to give up one or fewer home runs. Romo also was able to strand 92.9% of his inherited runners, which was the second best mark in the NL.

Even though he got off to a rough start in 2010, Romo still proved himself to be one of the top setup guys in the big leagues. In his final 54 games, Romo posted a 1.54 ERA and had the second most appearances on the team (68). He finished the season with a 5-3 record and a 2.18 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was sixth best among NL relievers and his ERA was the 10th best in the league. 

Romo made his first playoff appearance in game two of the 2010 National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Atlanta Braves, but didn’t record an out as the Giants blew a three-run lead and eventually lost in 11 innings.

In the following game, Romo gave up a go-ahead homer to Eric Hinske in the bottom of the eighth, but was still credited with his first playoff win after the Giants rallied in the top of the ninth to take the lead.

Romo had a blown save in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Philadelphia Phillies, but held the Phillies scoreless in his two other outings as the Giants advanced to the World Series.

Romo made one appearance in the World Series and didn’t allow a run in 0.2 innings as the Giants won their first World Series since 1954.

Even though his season ended two months early due to injury, 2011 ended up being one of the best years of Romo’s career.

Romo became just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to throw nine or more consecutive perfect innings, retiring 30 straight batters over a 10-innings span that lasted from July 4 to Aug. 6. From June 30 to Aug. 23, Romo threw 21.2 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest streak of his career. In 65 appearances, Romo had an ERA of 1.50, which was third lowest among NL relievers.

Additionally, Romo had a 14:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which was the best mark in MLB in more than 20 years. Romo also stranded 81.8% of his runners, which was fifth in the NL, and had the second highest strike percentage (71%) in the NL — minimum 20 innings pitched.

In 2012, Romo won the Gibby Award for being the MLB Setup Man of the Year, posting a 1.79 ERA, which was the highest among all middle relievers.

The Giants had issues with their closer role for the majority of the season, forcing manager Bruce Bochy to use a “bullpen by committee” strategy. Romo saved all nine of his save opportunities in 2012 and posted a 1.33 ERA in close-out situations.

In the 2012 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, Romo won game three and saved game five, helping the Giants advance to the NLCS.

The Giants won the NLCS in seven games against the St. Louis Cardinals and Romo appeared in all four of San Francisco’s wins. In 3.1 innings, Romo gave up no runs and just two hits.

Romo’s best postseason performance came against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Romo earned the save in the final three games of the series, not allowing a hit or a run in three innings of work, as the Giants won their second championship in three years.

After signing a two-year, $9 million contract, Romo excelled in his first full season as a closer in 2013. Romo converted 10 saves in the month of April which was the second most saves in a calendar month in Giants history. In July, Romo was selected to the All-Star Game.

Romo also converted all nine of his save opportunities in August and finished the season with 38 saves, which was third in the NL. He became the sixth Giant ever to record more than 30 saves in a season. Romo also finished the year with five wins.

Romo began the 2014 season with nine saves and an ERA of 1.65. Bur after blowing five saves in a two-month stretch, Romo was brought back to the setup role. He finished the year with 23 saves and an ERA of 3.72. Romo also had a career-high in wins (six).

In three appearances in the 2014 NLDS, Romo threw a trio of scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals — the Giants won the series in four games.

After taking the loss in game two of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Romo came back the following day to retire Matt Holliday in his short appearances to get the Giants out of a jam. San Francisco won the game in extra innings and Romo was credited as the winning pitcher.

Romo made a pair of appearances in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings. The Giants defeated the Royals in seven games and Romo won his third championship ring.

Romo’s last full season with the Giants came in 2015. After posting a 5.19 ERA in his setup role before the All-Star break, Romo pitched much more effectively in the second half of the season. Romo didn’t allow a run over a 14-inning stretch that lasted from July 11 to Aug. 21 and posted a 1.15 ERA in the second half of the season.

Injuries hampered Romo’s 2016 season as he appeared in just 13 games. He did, however, earn saves in four of the Giants final 12 games to help them reach the playoffs — where they were eventually eliminated by the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.

Romo was picked up in free agency by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017, but after posting a 6.12 ERA over 30 games, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays mid-season.

Romo had a much better showing in the final months of the season with the Rays, recording a 2-0 record and a 1.47 ERA in 25 games.

Romo re-signed with the Rays in 2018, which was the season that Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash experimented with using an “opener” — a pitcher designated to pitch the first one to three innings at the beginning of a ballgame.

After 588 appearances out of the bullpen, Romo made his first MLB start on May 19, 2018. He pitched one scoreless inning and struck out the side before getting replaced. Romo also started the next day, pitching 1.1 innings, making him the first pitcher since 2012 to start on consecutive days.

Romo went on to make three additional starts later in the month before exclusively coming out of the bullpen once again.

During a 13-game stretch from Aug. 9 through Sept. 17, Romo converted nine consecutive save opportunities and posted a 1.54 ERA. Romo converted his 100th career save on Aug. 19 in a 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.

He finished the season with a career-high of 73 appearances, which was fourth in the American League (AL) and posted an ERA of 4.14 and converted 25 of his 33 save opportunities.

Romo inked a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins in 2019 and served as the team’s closer until late-July, converting 17 saves. On July 27, 2019, Romo was traded to the Minnesota Twins.

Romo became the setup man upon his arrival in Minnesota. In 27 games for the Twins, Romo had an ERA of 3.18 and recorded three saves in 22.2 innings. He made a pair of appearances for Minnesota in the 2019 American League Division Series (ALDS), but the Twins lost to the New York Yankees in three games.

Romo re-signed with the Twins for the shortened 2020 season. He recorded five saves in six opportunities and had a 4.05 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched.

The Twins won the AL Central Division title for the second straight season, but were eliminated from the playoffs in the Wild Card round.