Erasmo Ramirez was a good pitcher in his first stint with the Seattle Mariners earlier this year. After starting in the bullpen, he moved to the rotation and was very solid there in a small sample size. Unfortunately, he hurt his elbow and was placed on the DL. When he was in AAA Tacoma rehabbing to get back to the Majors, he had a couple of really weird outings and the team decided to keep him there. When September came, he was recalled to the big league team and worked an inning out of the bullpen before it was announced he would be starting Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
Erasmo started with 92 MPH (quickly getting up to 93-94) moving fastballs (he throws nothing straight) and was throwing a lot of strikes. He used the slider to get an infield fly-out to begin the game. He used the 84 MPH slider, this time moving low and away from the right-handed hitter, to get a chase and miss to strikeout Edwin Encarnacion. He is missing more bats than I thought he would at this level and this is why my opinion on him has changed. He throws hard, throws strikes, and moves the ball around the zone. It is mindnumbingly simple, but it is what you want to see in a pitcher. His first 2 hits allowed in the first inning were an infield single and a single hit the other way by lefty Adam Lind. He then threw a good pitch to the next hitter, only to watch the ball dribble up the middle and a run score. He came back out in the 2nd and was dominant, throwing a lot of great sliders. Through 24 pitches, he had thrown 21 strikes, an amazing percentage (through 5.2 innings, he had 53 strikes in 68 pitches). He has always been known as a strike thrower, and my fear was that they were not quality strikes. However, he was throwing quality strikes against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night (and has most of the year). He had some of the worst luck possible though, as after a lead-off single, he jammed Brett Lawrie on a inside slider only to watch the ball roll past where Dustin Ackley would have been if the runner was not stealing. He pitched well the rest of the inning, getting weak fly-outs (only to watch speedy Anthony Gose score on one of them as Eric Thames airmailed the throw).
In the 4th, he gave up a hard line drive double to Yunel Escobar on a moving fastball down the middle. It was the hardest hit ball of the night. He responded by using very good sliders and changeups (something he didn’t throw a lot of) to get Kelly Johnson to strikeout. His changeup is really odd, as it moves like a moving fastball, it doesn’t move like really any other changeup I can think of. As far as his breaking ball command goes, it wasn’t that great, he missed the glove a lot, but he didn’t throw many in the middle of the plate. He was dominant in the 5th, and the 6th wasn’t much different, especially the Adam Lind at-bat. He is going to have to get more ground-balls than he did against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, but most of the fly-balls were essentially pop-ups with no chance of being hits.
In all, Erasmo’s return to the Mariners’ rotation was very successful (1.81 FIP, less so if xFIP is your preferred statistic). He struck out 6 in 7 innings (he threw 90 pitches, so perhaps could have went another inning) and walked just 1 (one of the last batters he faced). He showed very good command and he moved the ball around and changed speeds. I would have loved to used Pitch F/X to talk about his outing, but for whatever reason, Pitch F/X was not working tonight in Toronto. Instead let’s talk about next season. As I have suggested in other posts (the numbers back it up) the only above average starter the Mariners have is King Felix once you take out the Safeco factor. With Erasmo in the rotation next year, there is a chance you can have two. We don’t know whether Millwood or Iwakuma will be back and/or how effective they will be next year (posts on their free agency will be coming in the future). He is a guy that should be in the rotation with no questions asked next year unless he is injured.