According to reports from Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays have claimed relief pitcher Neil Ramirez off of waivers this afternoon from the San Francisco Giants.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) May 4, 2017
Ramirez is a 27 year-old right-hander that has pitched to a 13.06 ERA in 10.1 innings with the Giants so far this season. The Blue Jays had an open spot on the 40-man roster, but Ramirez is out of options so a subsequent move will be required to add him to the active roster.
Ramirez’s best major league season came in 2014 with the Chicago Cubs, where he pitched 43.2 innings with an ERA of 1.44 and a K/9 of 10.92, looking like he was living up to the hype that him ranked #77 on BP’s top 101 in 2012. Since then, he has struggled with both injury and performance and spent 2016 with three different organizations (the Cubs, Brewers and Twins). Walks have always been a problem for Ramirez, averaging a 4.4 BB/9 in his big league career.
Despite Ramirez’s ugly stat line, there is reason to believe he can be better than his numbers to date have indicated – his FIP sits at 3.64 and he has 18 strikeouts in his 10.1 innings of work. Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker has a history of helping pitchers with questionable control limit their walks. If Walker can work some of the magic he did with Francisco Liriano and Aaron Sanchez, and Ramirez can stop giving up as many home runs (ten since the start of 2016 after just three between 2014-2015), the newest member of the team could be a valuable contributor to the Blue Jays bullpen.
With Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ currently on the disabled list, and a potential injury to Marcus Stroman looming after he was removed from last night’s start, the Blue Jays can use all the pitching help they can get. An effective Neil Ramirez could allow Joe Biagini to move into the rotation while the other starters get healthy.
With Jason Grilli, Joaquin Benoit and (fingers crossed) Joe Smith, the Blue Jays have a decent track record of identifying underperforming relievers that still have something to contribute. If Ramirez is one of them, he can help stabilize a pitching staff that has endured more than its fair share of injuries this season.
Lead Photo © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports