After spending most of his first four major league seasons as a starter, Erasmo Ramirez has been a jack of all trades in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen. Now, with Blake Snell having been sent to AAA, he is getting another chance to prove that he can be a starter.
Since 2016, it appeared as though Erasmo Ramirez had found his niche in baseball. He had become the Tampa Bay Rays jack of all trades in the bullpen, as he filled in as the team closer, made a couple of spot starts, and did everything in between. Ramirez had become a valuable piece in a bullpen that was in need of consistency.
Now, with Blake Snell being sent down to the minors, Ramirez finds himself in yet another role. This time, he is going to slot into the starting rotation, taking over as the Rays fifth starter once again. Chances are, this time, he will have more of a chance to prove himself in the rotation again, as he made just one start in place of an injured Jake Odorizzi.
It is easy to see why the Rays would want to slot Ramirez into the rotation. Thus far in 2017, he has been excellent. In his 24.2 innings, he has a 2.92 ERA and a 0.811 WHiP, allowing just 16 hits and four walks while striking out 18 batters. In his one start this year, Ramirez allowed just one run on two hits, striking out five batters in his five innings.
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While it is highly unlikely that Ramirez will produce at that level all season, there may not be much of a dropoff if he remains in the rotation. In his 64 starts over his career, Ramirez has posted a 4.07 ERA and a 1.242 WHiP, striking out 7.2 batters per nine innings. As a reliever, Ramirez has actually been close to the same, with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.229 WHiP, although he has struck out just 6.2 batters per nine.
The best case scenario for the Rays may be that Ramirez gives them what he did in 2015. That season, he posted a 3.75 ERA and a 1.133 WHiP, striking out 6.9 batters per nine. If that is the type of production Ramirez can provide as a fifth starter, the Rays would certainly be pleased.
Even if that does happen, Ramirez may not be long for the rotation. Should Snell find his fastball command again, he will be back. Likewise, Jose De Leon is getting closer to being ready to return, and if he performs well at AAA, could bump Ramirez from the rotation. However, this is a chance to prove that he can be a major league starter once more.
Erasmo Ramirez is getting another chance in the Tampa Bay Rays starting rotation. Don’t be surprised if he exceeds expectations.