If this is what’s become of the 2018 season, so be it. Give Yefry Ramirez a start. Keep giving David Hess starts. Begin an intense talent evaluation while also trying - and this is the tricky part - to avoid a season that elicits sympathy from the ‘62 Mets.
Or the ‘88 Orioles, who lost their first 21 games and were 18-47 on June 17. This year’s model is 19-47 heading into today’s series finale against the Red Sox.
Ramirez might be one and done with Andrew Cashner expected to miss only one start with a strained muscle in his lower back. An MRI later today could force an adjustment to his timetable, but the news right now doesn’t seem to be dire.
To get started on Ramirez, who was recalled yesterday from Triple-A Norfolk, his first name is pronounced “Jeffrey.” Don’t be fooled by the first letter.
The Orioles acquired Ramirez from the Yankees on July 31, 2017 for international bonus pool money, a move that didn’t elicit much of a response in the baseball world with bigger moves transpiring at the non-waiver deadline. The Orioles later obtained infielder Tim Beckham from the Rays.
Ramirez, 24, is 38-30 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 116 minor league games. He made one appearance in spring training this year and allowed one run and three hits in two innings.
“Yefry’s a guy that without broadcasting a lot - I’m sure they know as much about him as they need to know - changeup, breaking ball,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He’s a position conversion. This guy’s pretty athletic. Hard worker, made some strides. He’s had a history of winning just about everywhere he’s been.
“He’s been good this year down there, he’s been real good. And then he’s had some challenges like a lot of young pitchers. A young guy. But I like the fact that winning’s kind of followed him around. He’s learning a lot. If you think about his experience level as a pitcher when he started out as a position player.”
Ramirez shut out Indianapolis on one hit over seven innings on May 16 and allowed eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings in his next start in Charlotte. He’s surrendered only three earned runs in his last three starts over 16 innings.
Right-handers are hitting .155 against him. Left-handers are hitting .286.
Andrew Susac caught Ramirez’s early starts before the Orioles recalled him. They later returned Susac to Norfolk.
“Yefry’s impressed me a lot,” Susac said prior to a game at Fenway Park. “He’s a guy who’s very composed for his age. He’s still a pup.”
I talked to a scout from outside the organization who has watched Ramirez and places his ceiling at fifth starter or maybe a long reliever. The Orioles will continue their own evaluation process today, for however long it lasts.
Lovers of the reverse-lock theory will note that the Red Sox are starting left-hander Chris Sale, who has won only five of his nine decisions, but is carrying a 2.83 ERA and 0.966 WHIP in 14 starts. He’s struck out 120 batters in 89 innings and the Orioles have a tendency to whiff.
Sale faced the Orioles on April 15 and allowed one run and two hits with eight strikeouts in five innings. He came out of the game after 93 pitches in a 3-1 victory at Fenway Park.
In 15 career games (nine starts) against the Orioles, Sale has gone 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.223 WHIP over 61 1/3 innings. He’s struck out 80 batters. Sale is 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 1.220 WHIP in nine games (six starts) at Camden Yards over 39 1/3 innings.
Danny Valencia has been serving as the designated hitter and he drove in a run last night, but he’s 3-for-21 (.143) with six strikeouts against Sale. I’m still playing him because he’s actually making contact.
Chris Davis sat last night and he’s 2-for-20 (.100) with seven strikeouts against Sale, making is likely that he stays on the bench.
Right-handers are hitting .193 against Sale this season and left-handers are hitting .224. Lefties are hitting .204 and right-handers .224 over his career.
Mark Trumbo has struck out 11 times in 23 at-bats against Sale. He also has two doubles and a home run among his five hits.