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Friday, June 22, 2018

Angels’ Cozart critical of Rays for starting Sergio Romo

Zack Cozart

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Zack Cozart was critical of the Tampa Bay Rays for utilizing an interesting strategy against them.

The Rays started relief pitcher Sergio Romo in both Saturday and Sunday’s games. On Saturday, Romo struck out the first three batters he faced. The Rays then had starter Ryan Yarbrough begin his outing in the second. He pitched well for 6.1 innings, and the Rays won 5-3.

On Sunday, Romo began the game against the Angels. He went 1.1 innings, walking two and striking out three. The Rays used two more relievers after Romo and ended the game with Anthony Banda, who often starts/makes longer appearances. This time the Angels won the game 5-2.

Cozart walked and struck out in his two at-bats against Romo. Afterwards, he called the Rays’ strategy “weird” and said it was bad for the game.

“It was weird…it’s bad for baseball, in my opinion…It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it,” Cozart said, via The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya.

The Rays used the strategy because Romo is particularly effective against right-handed hitters. The Angels’ best batters are right-handed — Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons — so the strategy works well against them. You could try to counter the move by putting left-handed batters at the top of the lineup, but the Angels don’t have many options. Their only lefty batters are Kole Calhoun, Luis Valbuena, and Shohei Ohtani when he’s in the lineup. Calhoun is only hitting .161 this season, so putting him at the top just to counter Romo might actually backfire.

The strategy might not be orthodox, but there’s nothing in the rules against it. Maybe it’s a sign to the Angels to add a left-handed bat.

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