In an effort to help out their tired and struggling bullpen, the Mets signed former Giants, Twins, Brewers, and Cubs pitcher Neil Ramirez earlier today. A right-handed pitcher, Ramirez will turn 28 years old next week and was drafted in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Rangers.
After several years in Texas’s minor league system, Ramirez was sent to the Cubs as the player to be named later in the trade that primarily featured a swap of Mike Olt and Matt Garza late in the 2013 season. The following year, Ramirez made his major league debut and excelled with a 1.44 ERA and 2.61 FIP in 43.2 innings for Chicago with a pretty good rate of 10.92 strikeouts per nine innings.
Ramirez didn’t fare quite as well in 2015, mostly because he was limited to just 14.0 innings of major league work. He did okay in that small sample with a matching 3.21 ERA and FIP, but injuries prevented him from playing a full season with the Cubs. And after 7.2 innings with the Cubs last year, during which he had major walk problems and a 4.70 ERA, he was claimed off waivers by the Brewers.
He only threw one-and-two-thirds innings for them before he was claimed again by the Twins. His 14.2 innings in Minnesota weren’t a success, as he racked up a 6.14 ERA and 8.12 FIP. Add it all up and he had a 6.00 ERA and 7.73 FIP in 24.0 major league innings last year. This year, the Giants signed Ramirez, and he threw 10.1 innings for them with a great strikeout rate—15.68 per nine/34.0 percent—but had an 8.71 ERA in that span. Technically, Ramirez was briefly part of the Blue Jays’ organization since Toronto claimed him off waivers from San Francisco, but he did not pitch for the team or any of its affiliates before he was granted free agency and signed with the Mets.
As far as stuff goes, Ramirez throws four pitches: a four-seam fastball, changeup, slider, and curve. The fastball averaged 93.23 miles per hour this year, per Brooks Baseball, with the change at 86.48, the slider at 84.43, and the curve at 78.82. The four-seam fastball is the go-to pitch of the arsenal, as he’s thrown it a majority of the time throughout his career. The slider gets pretty heavy use, too, and in his limited time in the big leagues this year, he threw his curve some, too. He has very, very rarely used his changeup.
The strikeouts that Ramirez has racked up in his major league career have largely been the product of his slider, a pitch that’s generated swings-and-misses over twenty percent of the time he’s thrown it. Mets pitchers have had an awful year so far, but Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen has been praised for his teachings when it comes to the slider. The team’s signing of Ramirez seems mostly like making a move because one clearly had to be made, but perhaps the Mets saw his use of the slider as an added bonus given Warthen’s record.
Overall, this isn’t an exciting or particularly inspiring signing by the Mets, but maybe it’ll make things better, even if only briefly. The bar is very low right now, and it’s fairly clear that the team couldn’t reasonably hope to contend without going outside of the organization for some help in the bullpen. A more significant move—or multiple moves—will be necessary in the long run.