Phillies: 6 relievers Joe Girardi is excited about for 2021

Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi (Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi (Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports) /
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JoJo Romero #79 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

5. JoJo Romero

Similar to Connor Brogdon, the left-handed-throwing JoJo Romero rose through the Phillies system in 2019, jumping from Double-A to Triple-A. Romero was used as a starter throughout his minor-league career in the organization, combining to go 26-20 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.289 WHIP, and a 351-135 strikeouts-to-walks ratio across 75 starts and 392 2/3 innings.

Recognizing their desperate need for bullpen arms in 2020, the Phillies first called upon the California native for his major-league debut in the eighth inning of an eventual 11-2 blowout road loss to the Atlanta Braves. Romero shined right away, striking out all three of his batters faced.

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Romero combined to post a 3.00 ERA over his first seven of 12 overall appearances in 2020. Then, he struggled, recording a 13.50 ERA in his final five, including allowing 10 hits, eight runs (seven earned), one walk, and one home run through 4 2/3 innings and 25 batters faced.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi is confident the 24-year-old will be able to build upon his rookie showing, and perhaps show off even more velocity in the process. “You had JoJo Romero, who could get up to 96/97 [miles per hour],” he said. “We think there might even be a little more in that tank.”

A strong sophomore showing from Romero could go a long way to help turn around a struggling bullpen from the 2020 season. Currently, he is just one of eight left-handers on the 40-man roster — joining Jose Alvarado, Kyle Dohy, Bailey Falter, Damon Jones, Matt Moore, Cristopher Sanchez, and Ranger Suarez.