March 25, 2013 at 8:40 AM
Erasmo Ramirez looking like he’s out of Mariners rotation race
While I was on the phone doing my Talkin’ Baseball segment (box below), the Mariners put out their pitching schedule through Wednesday’s game and Erasmo Ramirez is once again scheduled to throw in relief of a starter. Ramirez will enter Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers after Felix Hernandez.
That’s the second straight time Ramirez will be doing this. And as far as him making the rotation to start the year: this second straight bullpen assignment appears to indicate he’s been scratched from that race.
The Mariners could, in theory, stretch Ramirez back out again if they wanted him ready to work the back of the rotation. But they are running out of time to do that down here, meaning he’d have to start the year in Class AAA for that to happen.
Which also begs the question: why have Ramirez throw in relief at all down here if you were planning to use him as a starter?
The simple answer is: you would not.
Ramirez would have been starting minor league games if he was still in consideration for the rotation. That’s what Hisashi Iwakuma did the other day. It’s what Jeremy Bonderman did as well.
It’s been pretty apparent down here the past couple of weeks that the Mariners considered Ramirez to be a bit behind the other starters. In fact, I began asking around a while ago about whether the Mariners would consider putting Ramirez in the bullpen to begin the season.
At the time, I was told in no uncertain terms that the answer was no. That Ramirez or any other starter going to the bullpen in long relief or short was not being considered. That those pitchers would either have to make the rotation or go to AAA.
Plans can change, so I’ll leave that possibility open.
The Mariners could face a decision by tomorrow about whether they’ll use a roster spot on relief pitcher Kameron Loe. If Loe forces the issue by triggering his “out” clause (today is his first day of eligibility on that) and the Mariners let him walk, then Ramirez in the bullpen would seem possible. The one thing Ramirez in the bullpen would give you is another right-handed pitcher who is already on the roster instead of having to add one.
But there are drawbacks to that as well. The bullpen as it stands right now is long on talent and short on experience. You need experience in a bullpen not just for veteran mentoring, but also to ensure that the arms carrying you through a season don’t run out of gas come August and September. As good as Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps have looked at times this spring, they have relatively few big league innings under their belts and the chance of a late-season flameout from the bullpen’s right side is very real indeed without some reinforcement arms that have logged an entire year of MLB mileage before.
That’s where Loe comes in.
For Ramirez, he’s not going to start the year in the rotation. As for the bullpen, it’s always a possibility, but not one I’d bank on too highly.