Sergio Francisco Romo (born March 4, 1983) is a Mexican-American professional baseball pitcher who is a free agent. He has played for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut with the Giants in 2008.
As a closer for the Giants, he recorded three saves during the 2012 World Series, helping the Giants win the title. During the playoffs, he had saves in the clinching games of the NL Division Series and the World Series.
Romo was born in Brawley, California to Mexican parents. His grandfather and father both played baseball; his grandfather was a member of the Mexico City Diablos Rojos. Frank, Sergio's father, built a pitching mound in the backyard and taught Romo how to throw. He graduated from Brawley Union High School in 2001, having played shortstop and third base on the baseball team. With no scholarship offers from four-year colleges, Romo nearly signed enlistment papers to follow his father in the U.S. Navy, but opted to play baseball at junior college instead.
Romo first went to Orange Coast College before transferring to Arizona Western College. Romo was named to the All-Region I second team of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in 2002 and 2003. In 159 innings, Romo earned a 16-4 overall record with a 2.79 earned run average (ERA).
For his junior and senior years, Romo played NCAA Division II baseball at two colleges: the University of North Alabama (2004) and Mesa State College (2005). He was named First-Team All-Gulf South Conference in 2004 while playing for North Alabama and was 10-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 97.1 innings. In his senior year with Mesa State, he was the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. In 2009, the RMAC named Romo "All-Time Top Pitcher."
Romo was drafted by the Giants in the 28th round (852nd overall) of the 2005 Major League Baseball draft. He began his professional career with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Single-A short season Northwest League. Used as a starter, he had a 7–1 record and a 2.75 ERA in 68 2⁄3 innings. His seven wins led the Northwest League, while his 65 strikeouts ranked ninth.
The following year, Romo was assigned to the Augusta GreenJackets of the Single-A South Atlantic League. In 31 games (10 starts) he had a 10–2 record, a 2.53 ERA, 95 strikeouts, and four saves in 103 1⁄3 innings. He made 41 relief appearances for the San Jose Giants of the Single-A advanced California League in 2007, compiling a 6–2 record, a 1.36 ERA, 106 strikeouts, and nine saves in 66 1⁄3 innings of work. Romo's 14.38 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched was the fourth-best mark in the minors, and milb.com named Romo the Class A Advanced Relief Pitcher of the Year. Aided by his contributions, San Jose won the California League championship.
Romo began the 2008 season with the Double-A Connecticut Defenders of the Eastern League. Used as the closer, he had 11 saves in 27 games, although his ERA was 4.00.
Romo had his contract purchased by the San Francisco Giants on June 24, 2008, when Vinnie Chulk was designated for assignment. He made his big league debut on June 26, 2008, in a 4–1 loss to the Cleveland Indians, striking out two in an inning pitched. Romo posted a 2.35 ERA in his first 15 games but was designated for assignment on August 6, because the Giants were adding up two relief pitchers. Romo was on trade waivers at the time and thus could not be optioned to the minors. He was eventually sent to the minors, but was recalled on August 16, when Jonathan Sánchez was placed on the disabled list. Romo replaced Matt Palmer in the bullpen as Palmer took Sánchez's rotation spot. During the 2008 season, Romo dominated left-handed hitters, which is unusual for a right-handed pitcher. In 29 games as a rookie, Romo had a 3–1 record, a 2.12 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and eight walks in 34 innings. He played winter baseball with the Águilas de Mexicali of the Mexican Pacific League. In nine relief appearances, Romo made six of seven attempted saves and posted a 2.89 ERA.
Romo started the 2009 season on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain, and was activated on May 30, 2009. From June 5 through June 20, he threw 7 2⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. He picked up wins on both June 19 and 20, against the Texas Rangers. He completed his first major league save on July 7 against the Florida Marlins. He got the last two outs of the game, both of which were via the strikeout. Romo had a 2.31 ERA through July 11, but in four games between July 11 and 20, he gave up seven runs in two innings, raising his ERA to 6.59. He then had a 2.21 ERA in his final 27 games, which brought his ERA down to 3.97 at the end of the year. In 45 games, he had a 5–2 record, 41 strikeouts, and 11 walks in 34 innings. He was one of eight NL relievers to allow one or fewer home runs. Romo also stranded 92.9% of inherited runners, second in the NL to Juan Rincón's 95%.
Romo got off to a tough start to the 2010 season, posting a 4.50 ERA through his first 14 games and losing three of them. Starting May 9, he posted a 1.50 ERA in his final 54 games of the year. In mid-June, Giants' manager Bruce Bochy removed the struggling Guillermo Mota from the setup role and replaced him with Romo, who held it for the rest of the regular season. Romo gained notoriety for being one of the team's "Beards", along with LHP Jeremy Affeldt and closer Brian Wilson. In 68 games (second to Wilson on the Giants), Romo had a 5–3 record, a 2.18 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and 14 walks in 62 innings. This year, he held right-handed batters to a .185 average. His 5.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked sixth among NL relievers, and his 2.18 ERA ranked 10th.
In Game 2 of the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Atlanta Braves, Romo gave up two hits without recording an out; both runners scored as the Giants went on to blow a three-run lead and lose 5–4 in 11 innings. Romo replaced Sánchez in the eighth inning of Game 3 and allowed a go-ahead two-run home run to Eric Hinske but was charged with the win as the Giants rallied in the ninth to win 3–2. The Giants won the series in four games. In Game 4 of the NL Championship Series (NLCS) against the Philadelphia Phillies, Romo gave up an RBI double to Jayson Werth and was charged with a blown save, but the Giants won 6–5. He held the Phillies scoreless in his other two outings of the series (losses in Games 2 and 5), and the Giants won the series in six games. Romo made one appearance in the World Series against the Texas Rangers, throwing 2⁄3 of a scoreless eighth inning in the Giants' 11–7 victory. Romo earned his first World Series ring as the Giants won the series in five games to win their first title since 1954.
In 2011, Romo became the fifth reliever in MLB history to throw nine or more consecutive perfect innings, retiring thirty straight batters in 10 innings over a span of fourteen games from July 4 through August 6. From August 16 through August 28, he was on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. From June 30 through September 23, he had the longest scoreless streak of his career, throwing 21 2⁄3 scorless innings. Romo appeared in 65 games in 2011; his stat line for the year was: 3–1 record, 1.50 ERA, 70 strikeouts, five walks, 13.1 K/9, and .9 BB/9 in 48 innings. His ERA was the third-lowest among NL relievers, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14:1 was the best in MLB and the best ever since Dennis Eckersley's 18.25:1 ratio in 1990. He stranded 81.8% of runners (fifth in the NL) and trailed only Kris Medlen in strike percentage (71%) among NL pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched.
Romo performed very well to begin the 2012 season and did not allow an earned run until May 17, 2012. After Brian Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery in April, Santiago Casilla was given the closer role. Casilla blew five out of ten saves entering August, however; Bochy announced on August 7 that the Giants would use a "bullpen by committee" strategy, with Romo Javier López, and Jeremy Affeldt pitching the final two innings of close games, depending on which hitters they would be facing. Romo and López received most of the save opportunities; Affeldt only had one save after that point. From then through the end of the season, Romo converted nine out of nine save opportunities and posted a 1.33 ERA. Romo appeared in 69 games of the 2012 season, earning 14 saves with a 1.79 ERA, which was fourth among NL relievers and trailed only Craig Kimbrel (1.01), Aroldis Chapman (1.51) and Eric O'Flaherty (1.73). The Giants won the NL West; in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, Romo appeared in three games, winning Game 2 and saving Game 5. He pitched in all four of the Giants' wins in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals but did not get a single save opportunity. However, in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, he made three appearances and recorded the save in each of them. He pitched the final inning of the deciding Game 4 and struck out three straight, including Miguel Cabrera for the last out and the Giants' win. In the Series, Romo pitched three perfect innings and had five strikeouts.
In February 2013, Romo and the Giants agreed to a two-year, $9 million contract. Romo began the 2013 season as the Giants' closer. He had 10 saves in April, second in Giants' history for the month to Rod Beck (11). On July 14, he was added to the NL All Star Game roster after Jeff Locke and Jordan Zimmermann made starts on Sunday and became ineligible to pitch. It was the first All-Star selection of his career. However, Romo was not used in the All-Star Game. In August, Romo converted all nine of his save opportunities. Romo finished the 2013 season with a 2.54 earned run average and 38 saves in 43 chances, appearing in 65 games. He had a career-high five wins but also a career-high eight losses. His 38 saves made him the sixth Giant to achieve 30 saves in a season and tied him for third in the league with Chapman, behind Kimbrel's 50 and Rafael Soriano's 43.
Romo began the 2014 season well, with a 1.65 ERA and 12 saves through May 9. However, Romo struggled after that, recording five blown saves and a 9.00 ERA from May 9 to June 30. Romo was removed from the closer role on that date, with the Giants announcing their intention to go to a closer-by-committee. Used as the eighth inning setup man for the remainder of the season, Romo appeared 30 times after July 1 and had a 2.10 ERA over 25 2⁄3 innings with 32 strikeouts and 5 walks. He finished the year 6–4 with a 3.72 ERA, 59 strikeouts in 58 innings, and 12 walks over 64 games. In save opportunities, he was 23 for 28. In the 2014 NLDS against the Washington Nationals, Romo pitched three scoreless innings over three games. He took the loss in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cardinals after allowing a game-ending home run to Kolten Wong. He recovered to earn the win in Game 3 by retiring Matt Holliday as the Giants won in extra innings. In the 2014 World Series, Romo appeared in two games, pitching 2 1⁄3 innings with 4 strikeouts and no runs allowed, earning his third World Series championship with the Giants.
On December 22, 2014, Romo and the Giants finalized a two-year contract worth $15 million.
On August 30 at AT&T Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Romo came into his five-hundredth career game, becoming the fifth Giants pitcher in franchise history to appear in at least five hundred games.
With a low-three quarters delivery Romo features three pitches: a slider that sits 75-79 mph which he uses against right handed batters, a two seam fastball sitting 88-90, and a change up which he uses against left handed hitters, sitting 80-83.
Romo possesses the ability to analyze and correct his own mistakes, which he has done since his rookie season. After one game in 2008, Romo, while watching video, noted he had been leaning over more than usual in the game. He said, "I felt like I was overcorrecting just a little bit", and worried that this affected his pitch command.
Through 2013, Romo led all post-integration MLB pitchers in lowest career FIP with a minimum of 250 innings pitched. His career 2.24 ERA was second only to Mariano Rivera.
Sergio had his first child, a boy, Rilen Serge Romo, in January 2006, followed by his second son, Rex Ryder Romo, in September 2011.