When he was called up just before the All-Star Break, the exclamation for the long-awaited arrival for Erasmo Ramirez was perhaps hyperbolic. I’ll admit, I thought he’d be a big fantasy help too. Sure he was dynamite last year with a decent 3.36 ERA but dazzling 1.00 WHIP and 7.32 Ks per 9 in his debut 59 innings. His walk rate was under 2 per 9, pitches in Safeco – this was going to be a fantastic season.
But a triceps injury kept him from making the Opening Day rotation, forcing him to rehab his way back up. After two nice starts in single A and double AA, Erasmo spent most of his time in AAA with a solid 3.09 ERA and 42 Ks in 43.2 innings. However, red flags did arise with a WHIP at 1.31 and a walk rate at 2.89. Not exactly too scary, and he was certainly shaking some rust off.
His debut start was a horrific implosion vs. the Red Sox, giving up 7 earned and walking 4 in 4.2 innings. He bounced back to get a win against Cleveland, but still wasn’t sharp giving up 3 earned in 5.2 IP. So what do we make of Erasmo now? Can he still be a solid 2nd half pitcher fantasy owners were looking for? Or is it time to give up? In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Erasmo pitch, and with a start against the lowly Twins offense at home, I saw yesterday’s performance as a perfect opportunity to break down how he’s looking:
First Inning: Eraser’s first pitch is a 90-MPH fastball in there for strike one. Erasmo throws from a fairly low arm slot, and as soon as I write that he comes over top with a slider – looked like his arm angle was higher on that pitch. We’ll see as we go, either way it was in there to make it 0-2 to Brian Dozier then another fastball at 93 this time is just off the outside corner, 1-2. Yeah that fastball arm slot was definitely lower than the slider, but maybe it was just getting loose on the first few pitches. The 1-2 is another fastball, a two-seamer that paints the outside corner perfectly for a strikeout looking, and Dozier didn’t even take a swing. The first pitch to Chris Hermann is a fastball high, then a slider dips low, 2-0. Another fastball is way outside, quickly 3-0, then a fastball nips the inside corner, then a fastball blows past a swinging Hermann to work it full. Erasmo then ramps it up to 94, Hermann squares it up, but just gets under it and flies out to center, two down. Up now is Justin Morneau who takes a fastball inside, then a 79-MPH “change-up” slips out of Ramirez’s hand, 2-0. Not a good start for a feel on that pitch. Morneau then lets it all go on a swing-and-miss on a fastball but misses it, 2-1, then Morneau fouls off another fastball, 2-2. Erasmo dials up another fastball, this one at the letters and Morneau flies it out weakly to left to end the inning in order.
Second Inning: Erasmo starts the second with a curveball that hangs and stays outside to Ryan Doumit then a 91-MPH fastball right in Doumit’s wheelhouse low and on the inside, and Endy Chavez goes back and makes a leaping stab at it, gets a piece of it, but it falls out of his glove and hits about the top inch of the yellow line keeping it a double. Chavez saved that from being a homer, the play is reviewed and upheld, and up now is Chris Colabello who gets a first pitch hanging slider right down the middle and crushes it to dead center (in Safeco!) for a two-run homer. Yikes. Quick two runs given up and still no outs, and Clete Thomas takes a fastball low, then one at the knees in there, then misses, then one fouled off – 2-2. Erasmo hangs another slider but it’s fouled back – just not a consistent feel for that pitch right now. A fastball is barely fouled back out of play, Erasmo really missed his spot on that one, then a change-up tipped foul, still 2-2 and yet another fastball is fouled back. Long at bat here, and a slider is inside, full count. Another slider is right down the middle, Thomas smokes it, but it’s fielded by Kendrys Morales for the first out. Erasmo starts Trevor Plouffe with a curveball taken for strike one, good to see that pitch over, then he misses with two straight fastballs, then another slider is hung in the upper part of the zone and Plouffe hits it hard to left for a single. Erasmo is really struggling right now, especially with the slider. Up is Aaron Hicks who takes a fastball for strike one, then another fastball is popped out to shallow left, two down. So hoping to get out of the inning, Erasmo starts Pedro Florimon with a strike, then a fastball is perfectly placed on the inside black, 0-2. Erasmo climbs the ladder but doesn’t get a swing, 1-2, then a nasty change-up, easily Erasmo’s best off-speed pitch on the day with fantastic sharp sink, gets a swing-and-miss to get him out of the inning.
Third Inning: Still down 2-0, Erasmo starts Dozier with a curveball that would’ve decapitated someone not paying attention. Just wild how inconsistent Erasmo looks right now, he was able to get a curveball over for a strike last inning and that one made Dozier duck. Then there’s yet another hanging slider right down the middle, and Dozier smacks it hard to left for a leadoff double. The first pitch to Hermann is a fastball high, then a two-seamer that sort of hangs (if you can hang a two-seamer) at 88 MPH gets a pop up to shallow center, but caught for out number one. Erasmo starts Morneau with a fastball barely outside, he stays out there and gets the outside corner, then blows Morneau away with another heater, 1-2. Erasmo misses just outside, 2-2, then a change-up is nubbed foul, then another heater hitting 94, his top speed on the day, gets another fouled back. Erasmo dials up another fastball, at 93 it’s foul tipped into the glove for Erasmo’s third K. So two outs, runner still on second and Erasmo starts Doumit with a change-up low, then a curveball stays too far inside, 2-0. Erasmo misses way low, then pretty far outside for a four-pitch walk. Runners on first and second and the first pitch to Colabello almost hits him, then a two-seamer on the outside black gets a big swing-and-miss, 1-1. Erasmo again goes inside and way too far, 2-1, then another fastball is absolutely crushed opposite field and back goes Endy Chavez who leaps and makes a fantastic catch saving a definite 3-run home run and mercifully gets Erasmo out of the inning. Pretty much only a handful of right fielders make that catch, or else Erasmo would have given up five runs by now.
Fourth Inning: Erasmo picks up a run of support, Mariners down 1-2, and his first pitch is a fastball flied out lazily to center off the bat of Thomas, one pitch one out. First pitch to Plouffe is a fastball painting the outer black, then a slider is way outside, 1-1. Again with the two-seamer, Erasmo paints the outside black, then tries to get Plouffe to chase but he doesn’t offer on the curveball low, 2-2. Plouffe fouls a fastball off, then Erasmo runs a fastball way too far inside, full count. Another fastball on the fists is grounded weakly to short, two down. Only one slider so far this inning that was way out of the zone, I wonder if Erasmo has scrapped that pitch. And Hicks is first-pitch swinging on a fastball and grounds out weakly to second, a quick 7-pitch inning.
Fifth Inning: After big home runs from Michael Saunders and Nick Franklin, Erasmo finds himself up 5-2 and starts Florimon with a fastball low, then another cut on and missed, 1-1. A change-up is hit foul, then a nasty 94-MPH heater gets Ramirez’s 4th K swinging, one down. First pitch to Dozier is a slider that is four feet outside and in the dirt, 1-0. Yet another horrible slider. Ramirez gets a fastball by Dozier swinging, then again at the letters gets a swing-and-miss, 1-2. Ramirez then goes with a slider, it didn’t have much break but bent out of the zone and gets Dozier swinging, 5 Ks. Probably his best slider on the day, almost more like a cutter on that one. Huge bounce back inning so far. Erasmo starts Hermann with a fastball high, then is low with the change, then gets him to swing-and-miss on a fastball, 2-1. Another fastball is outside, then the 3-1 fastball is dribbled down the first base line and gets by a diving Morales for a double. Wasn’t a great pitch, but Hermann didn’t hit it hard either. Erasmo’s first pitch to Morneau is a change-up, Morneau gets under it and flies out lazily to right to end the inning.
Sixth Inning: At 81 pitches, Erasmo starts Doumit with a change-up taken for a strike, then easily Erasmo’s best slider on the day is cut on and missed, 0-2. He tries the slider again and it’s in the dirt, 1-2, then a fastball is tapped barely foul, then a change-up stays outside, 2-2. Another heater is fouled off, then a fastball is way high and tight, full count. Another fastball comes inside, Doumit is able to hold his swing even though it almost hits him, and it’s a leadoff walk. Tough start after getting up 0-2. So Erasmo starts Colabello inside, then again too far inside with a heater, 2-0. Out comes Henry Blanco for a chat. Ramirez bears down and misses outside with the heater, down 3-0. Erasmo gets a fastball over, then another fastball is fouled straight back, and Ramirez has worked it full. The payoff pitch is a fastball at the letters but down the middle, and Colabello hits it hard to left center for a single. So runners on first and third with no outs. Here comes Carl Willis, Mariners Pitching Coach, to try and get things worked out, and Ramirez’s first pitch to Thomas is fouled back, 0-1. Another fastball is banged hard up the middle scoring Doumit on a single, now runners on first and second with no outs and Ramirez has given up 3 ER. Ramirez starts Plouffe with a slider fouled back, then a fastball is hit hard to dead center, but caught by Dustin Ackley retreating to the track and caught on the run, and both runners advance, one out. First pitch to Hicks is a change-up at 79 low, then Erasmo’s 100th pitch is a fastball outside, 2-0. Erasmo misses low with a 92-MPH fastball, 3-0, then Hicks gets the greenlight and swings on a fastball down the middle, it’s flied out to center and scores Colabello tagging, now 5-4 Mariners. So two outs, runner still on second and Erasmo starts Florimon with a change-up taken for a strike, then Florimon takes a big cut and misses on another change-up, 0-2. Ramirez’s final pitch of the day is another change-up, nasty late sink and maybe his best of the outing gets Florimon swinging and Ramirez out of the inning.
Final Line: W 6 IP 106 Pitches (65 Strikes) 7 Hits 2 Walks 4 ER 6 K Gamescore: 46 Gamescore+: 44.8
Final Analysis: Just a really, really underwhelming performance by Erasmo, who I thought had been turning it around looking at the numbers, but breaking down this start was really eye-opening. And I’m feeling better and better with my Gamescore+ that indicated a lot of hard hit outs and hits, and made his calculation below the Gamescore. This easily could’ve been a lot worse on the stat sheet for Erasmo.
With an arm slot and delivery that reminds me of Justin Masterson, he is a little higher with the arm slot, but doesn’t have the same sink we’ve seen from Masterson. Heavily relying on the fastball for this start, there was some solid velocity hitting 94, but usually in the low 90s. He wasn’t precise at all with location, but the heater was usually able to keep him in counts. He’s used the slider the most this season as his secondary pitch, and it was downright awful in this game. Several hung right in the middle of the zone and many others were not even close. The same went with the curveball, which he used in the third as a first pitch strike, then as his first pitch of the fourth and it slipped out of his hand. The change-up was Erasmo’s best off-speed pitch in this one, and he used it more frequently last year than thus far this season. I envision the Mariners getting him to go back to the change-up as the primary second pitch from this point on, especially ending his day with three straight that were all nasty.
So what to do with Erasmo? I think he’s droppable in 10 and 12-team mixed redraft leagues. He was just mightily inconsistent, and it’s just downright surprising he only had two walks in this one. He was all over the place. You can pretty much count on one hand the right fielders that would’ve robber Colabello’s near homer in the third, and if that goes over, he would’ve given up 5 runs in 2.2 innings making this another implosion of a start. And the Twins were late on numerous 92-93 MPH fastballs (and no Joe Mauer in this one to boot) something you wouldn’t expect from better line-ups. However for dynasty leagues, the kid is only 23 and if he can get a consistent feel on the secondary stuff that he struggled with in this one, he could turn it around for some success in Seattle in 2014 and beyond.