The first two spots in the Seattle Mariner’s starting rotation are clearly accounted for when looking ahead to 2014 — but the back three spots are up for grabs and there are several pitchers who could claim them.
One player on this list who should contend for either the fourth of fifth rotation slot is Erasmo Ramirez.
Going into 2013, the young righty from Nicaragua had all but secured a rotation spot, but an injury sidelined him for the early part of the season.
Now healthy and still firmly under contract with the M’s until 2019, Ramirez is again on the shortlist of players currently on the roster who could secure a starting spot next season.
Unfortunately, Ramirez’s performance in 2013 did nothing to help build his case for retaining his position next season.
Upon returning to the M’s rotation in July, Ramirez was able to stay with the club for the rest of the season, but his pitching was mediocre at best.
In 13 games — 12 of which were starts — the 23 year-old posted a 4.98 ERA across 72.1 innings, had a WHIP of 1.45 (the league average was 1.30), gave up 1.5 homeruns per nine innings, had a BB/9 of 3.32, a K/9 of 7.1, and finished with a win/loss record of 5-3.
To sum up that lengthy sentence of statistics, this season Ramirez gave up too many homeruns, walked too many people, and gave up too many hits.
Coming into this season, Ramirez was looking to build upon a 2012 where he made his major league debut and also posted a respectable 3.36 ERA in 59 innings; he also had WHIP of 1.00, a HR/9 of 0.9, a BB/9 of 1.8, and K/9 of 7.3.
Ramirez clearly regressed in nearly every statistical category between 2012 and 2013, and now this offseason he needs to work on regaining his command and keeping the ball inside the ballpark.
While never considered to be one of the top prospects within the organization, Ramirez was reliable and efficient at every level in the minors. He’s always been a workhorse, and while not flashy, his steady production in the minors and his 2012 season earned him his roster spot this past season.
The injury early in 2013 obviously set him back and he never regained his composure or command. If Ramirez wants his starting slot back in 2014, he needs to return to his 2012 form.
In 2014, Ramirez is going to have to compete with both Taijuan Walker and James Paxton for a starting slot, but beyond that there isn’t really anyone within the organization who poses much of a threat.
The greatest danger to Ramirez’s future (beyond himself) is the M’s going out and signing or trading for another pitcher — which they probably should and will do.
Ramirez was a pleasant surprise in 2012, but realistically he now has one more season in which to prove he deserves to be major league starter.
The M’s have talented young pitchers knocking on the door and if Ramirez doesn’t improve this offseason there might not be a spot for him come next season.