Reliever Sergio Romo went from Miami to Minnesota … from last place to first place … and now he’s back, sort of.
On Saturday night, the Miami Marlins sent their closer, Romo, to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league first baseman Lewin Diaz. The Twins also got a lightly regarded pitching prospect and a player to be named.
On Tuesday night, the Twins — with Romo on board — are set to visit the Marlins to open a three-game series.
The Twins, who lead the American League Central, have won three of their past four games. They had a travel day on Monday.
Romo, who has yet to pitch for the Twins, said he was “extremely grateful” to the Marlins for the opportunity they gave him. He was 17-for-18 on save chances this year while going 2-0 with a 3.58 ERA.
“Everybody in Miami made me feel welcome,” the 36-year-old veteran said. “I don’t find that everywhere I go. They let me be myself, and I’m super thankful for that.”
Tuesday’s pitching matchup — for the starters at least — will feature Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi (11-5, 3.84 ERA) against Miami rookie Zac Gallen (1-2, 2.76) in a battle of right-handers.
Odorizzi is 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins. He’s even better in two career starts at Marlins Park: 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA.
This season, Odorizzi has been remarkably consistent at home (3.81 ERA) and away (3.88 ERA). But he’s been much better against right-handed batters (.178 batting average, .591 OPS). Lefty batters are hitting .292 against Odorizzi with an .806 OPS.
At his best, Odorizzi was 4-0 this May with a 0.94 ERA. However, he has been brutal this month: 1-2 with a 9.35 ERA. That includes a 10-7 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday, a four-inning outing during which he allowed 10 hits and nine runs, both season highs.
Meanwhile, Gallen — who has made just six major league appearances, all starts, none of them against Minnesota — will enter Tuesday’s game with momentum. In his most recent outing, he went a career-long seven innings in a 2-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Gallen allowed just two hits and one walk, striking out a career-high nine. It also became his first major league win after a Cesar Puello hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
“It was pretty cool that (Puello) crushed that one,” Gallen said. “I jumped off the bench and threw my hands in the air when he hit that.”
A 23-year-old New Jersey native, Gallen is a former third-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Marlins acquired him in a trade for outfielder Marcell Ozuna in December 2017, and now Miami is reaping its rewards. Gallen’s fastball is below the major league average at 92 mph, but he has a good spin rate, and he has been able to fool batters so far.
That Ozuna trade has already produced one All-Star appearance for Miami with pitcher Sandy Alcantara, and Gallen’s continued development would be big for the organization.
As it is, the Marlins — despite having the worst record in the National League — are on a bit of a roll, taking three of four games from the Arizona Diamondbacks, including an 11-6 win on Monday.
“They have a bunch of cool dudes,” Romo said of his former teammates. “They have a bunch of dudes I grew to love.”
–Field Level Media
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