Last season, Erasmo Ramirez pretty much came out of nowhere to post a 3.36 ERA (3.61 SIERA) between the bullpen and rotation. He finished the season in the Mariners rotation and over eight starts, posted a 3.64 ERA with a strikeout rate of 7.9. That performance was enough to intrigue fantasy owners and he was considered a sleeper by many. In fact, RotoGrapher Brett Talley liked him enough to boldly predict Ramirez would finish the season as a top 60 fantasy starter. Unfortunately, he has yet to throw a pitch for the Mariners this season, but you would do well to remind yourself who the man they call Erasmo is all about.
In spring training, Ramirez was not guaranteed a rotation spot, but given his competition, the assumption was that he would win the fifth starter job. That did not happen, as he opened the season at Triple-A. Things became a little bit clearer as to why when we learned that Ramirez would start the season on the disabled list. So it wasn’t a matter of the organization choosing Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan over Ramirez because they expected both to outperform the latter, it was actually because of health reasons.
Since that time, we have heard little about what has afflicted Ramirez. It seems to be some sort of arm problem, whether the elbow or triceps. The good news is that he’s finally back now and has made three starts already between Double-A and Triple-A with solid results. No word yet on velocity though.
Over his eight starts last year, Ramirez’s fastball velocity was actually similar to what he showed when pitching in relief. He averaged between 91 and 94 mph over his individual outings. But while his fastball velocity was respectable, the real weapon was his change-up. He threw it about 22% of the time and it produced a SwStk% of nearly 26%. His slider was also a very effective pitch at generating whiffs, as its SwStk% was about 22%. Overall, his SwStk% was 11.3%, which is excellent, and typically matches up with a K/9 well above the 7.3 mark he posted. He also displayed very good control as he pumped in first pitch strikes at a better than league average rate.
A call-up of Ramirez isn’t necessarily imminent, but you have to assume that Jeremy Bonderman isn’t going to last much longer in the Seattle rotation. He is therefore someone to make a preemptive bid on in deeper leagues and ensure you quickly pounce on in mixed leagues if and when he does indeed get the call.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.