Mariners Have Erasmo Ramirez Taking a Step in the Left Direction

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 22: Starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 22: Starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez /

After two DL stints for separate shoulder injuries, Erasmo Ramirez finally snuck back onto the Mariners’ active roster. His surprisingly triumphant return meant to some that the team finally had its envisioned 4th starter back.

Although his next start wasn’t as pretty, he finished the night well and has given up just one earned run in 10 IP since returning on August 12th.

So far so good for the fresh and finally healthy Erasmo Ramirez. After pitching five shutout innings against the Astros in his first start back from the DL, he proceeded to toss five innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers. He had to work around four walks that night, but hey, he got the job done.

While the Astros didn’t have all of their regular starters and the Dodgers hadn’t recently been firing on all cylinders, they each still made for formidable foes.

What’s more interesting than Erasmo escaping either start alive at all is the fact that he moved across the rubber to do so.

He’s never done that before.

Well, he’s never moved in this particular direction to this extent and stayed there before, but that’s not as gripping of a statement.

Anyway, over the past few years, Ramirez has thrown from the center of the rubber or toward the third base side, but in his most recent two starts, he has shuffled to his left and thrown closer to the first base side.

You can see the difference in-game or you can infer it right here with the average horizontal release point of three of his most common pitches since 2015:

Time PeriodH. Release Point of Sinker (in ft.)H. Release Point of Changeup (in ft.)H. Release Point of 4-Seam Fastball (in ft.)
2015 -2.92 -2.82 -2.96
2016 -2.34 -2.12 -2.25
2017 -2.03 -1.84 -1.95
First 2 Starts in 2018 (4/22, 4/27) -2.36 -2.12 -2.36
Next 2 Starts in 2018 (8/12, 8/18) -1.82 -1.54 -1.72

He only gets further away further you go back. Maybe he made a similar shift in 2017, but he didn’t take it as far as he has this August.

In addition to this point of interest for Erasmo’s upcoming starts, he may be approaching his pitch mix differently too.

To begin 2018, Ramirez didn’t quite continue the sinker-heavy fastball mix that persisted through his 2016 and 2017 seasons, but that has been restored as his sinker and 4-seam fastball have represented roughly 38% and 9% of all of his pitches, respectively, since his most recent return from the DL.

However, his slider usage is worth a closer look at the season progresses.

Against the Astros and Dodgers, Ramirez threw a total of just six sliders.

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According to Brooks Baseball, those sliders made up just 3.55% of his pitches in those starts while they accounted for 9.44% of his pitches during his first two starts this year, 9.60% of his pitches last year, and 12.99% of his pitches in 2016.

Meanwhile, he has shown confidence in other pitches. He still generates solid results with his changeup, his cutter has potential when he locates it consistently, and he has his sinker and the occasional 4-seam fastball to find the strike zone when necessary.

And for what it’s worth, in an anecdote about the Mariners’ peer-observed bullpen sessions, Aaron Goldsmith revealed in passing that, at one point this year, Ramirez was working on his curveball — a pitch that hasn’t really been part of his repertoire since 2015.

Maybe Ramirez is just warming up to his slider as he gets settled in, but given that batters have slugged .519, .379, and .541 off it in the previous three years and that one of the first fourteen he threw this year went for a home run, maybe it was time to just give it up.

Whatever Erasmo and the Mariners might be getting up to, with his shift toward the first base side of the rubber during his last two starts, it at least seems like there is concerted effort to breathe some life into his game and help him reset before the season winds down.

Next. Trade Candidate: Starlin Castro. dark

As for signs of progress? He gave up zero home runs to the Astros and Dodgers who rank 8th and 2nd in home runs this year.

That’ll do.

All stats referenced prior to games on 08/22/18