Since coming over from the San Diego Padres in the Jason Bartlett trade in 2010, Cesar Ramos has managed to establish himself nicely in the Tampa Bay Rays’ bullpen. Over parts of four years, Ramos has thrown 221.2 innings for the Rays, and he’s been a permanent member of their relief corps the past two seasons. That said, some are speculating about Ramos’ future with the Rays. Could he be on his way out after this season?
While he has never been the type of reliever to pitch in the late innings, Ramos has been a solid contributor over the last few years. In 166 games, he’s posted a 3.69 ERA, a 7.2 K/9, and a 3.8 BB/9. This year has been his best season ERA-wise aside from 30 innings of 2.10 ERA in 2012 as he has posted a 3.79 mark in a career-high 80.2 innings pitched. Those ERAs aren’t going to win any awards, but you have to consider the role in which Ramos has done that.
Ramos been the Rays’ long reliever, capable of throwing two or three innings at a time. When needed, Ramos can be the difference between saving the bullpen during a rough stretch and a tired relief corps that continues to struggle. He also provides emergency starting depth, which the Rays actually needed this year, as Ramos started seven games. So while Ramos hasn’t been a shutdown reliever, he has certainly been a valuable member of the 25-man roster.
All of that said, the Rays have plenty of relievers with higher upside than Ramos. Guys like C.J. Riefenhauser and Steve Geltz have little left to prove in the minors, and current starters Alex Colome and Nate Karns could both be moved to the bullpen next season. Ramos is a nice piece, but the Rays have never trusted him to throw in any type of key situations. They now have players that can throw in those spots, and that could result in Ramos’ departure from the team.
So it all comes down to what characteristics the Rays favor. If they want someone who can throw multiple innings to save the bullpen in games that are out of hand, then Ramos is their guy. Also, he has the added benefit of being able to spot start if needed. However, he will never be more than just that, and the Rays have relievers that have much more upside than Ramos.
In the end, I believe Ramos has a future with the Rays. His ability to give the bullpen some rest and pitch effectively while pitching so sparingly is a quality that is undervalued. Also, the Rays’ starting depth for next year is in question. They have seven or eight pitchers that could conceivably start games next year, but guys like Jeremy Hellickson, Karns, Colome, and the health of Matt Moore are hardly sure things. Thus, having Ramos’ ability to start might be useful once again, just like it was this year. We will have to wait and see what the Rays are thinking, but to me, Ramos has proven himself a valuable member of this bullpen.