Giants reliever Sergio Romo will be placed on the 15-day DL after being diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right elbow, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle was among those to report on Twitter. Romo will not even resume throwing for two weeks, at which time he’ll be reevaluated before being cleared, so he’ll almost certainly be out longer than the minimum.
Romo had been generating typically strong results in his first several outings, but there were some warnings signs. His swinging strike rate is down quite a bit, and Romo has only recorded one strikeout in four appearances. Of greater concern, he has lost around 1.5 to 2 miles per hour on all of his offerings as against his 2015 average velocities.
It’s not clear at this point how long of an absence is to be expected, but as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com notes, a similar malady cost righty Matt Cain a full three months last season. Of course, Cain had to rebuild his pitch count in a way that Romo won’t need to, but that experience shows the potential that this kind of injury has. Fellow reliever Carson Smith of the Red Sox is still working back from his own version of the impairment suffered over three weeks ago.
San Francisco will surely also try to avoid risking further injury by rushing a return. Certainly, it’s far from uncharted territory, and there are clear risks. Doug Fister suffered a velocity decline after his return from a flexor strain last year, while Cliff Lee was shelved for the year in 2014 after he suffered a flexor tear upon his return from a two-month DL stint for a strain.
It appears that Cory Gearrin will move up the depth charts into a more prominent set-up role in Romo’s stead. Of course, the club can also turn to high-powered righty Hunter Strickland in front of closer Santiago Casilla, so there’s sufficient depth on hand for the time being. It’s not yet clear which minor leaguer will be summoned to occupy Romo’s active roster spot, but San Francisco appears to be weighing a variety of options.