Ramirez: what’s wrong?

My personal observation, from his recent starts, is that Horacio Ramirez is throwing the same pitch — fastballs away and a little bit down — a huge percentage of the time. Do you guys think that that’s all that his recent problems have been, poor pitch selection? Or is there something else? Other possibilities:

  • The Sabermetricist theory: He was lucky for two years when he gave up too many baserunners without getting strikeouts or being an extreme groundball pitcher, and it’s finally caught up to him.
  • A defense: He’s just unlucky right now and he’ll be back to normal soon.
  • He’s hurt: It does look to me like his stuff isn’t what it was before his mysterious, and still undiagnosed, shoulder injury.

Any other ideas?

16 thoughts on “Ramirez: what’s wrong?”

  1. You can get people out pitching that way, you just have a smaller margin for error and lately he’s been on the wrong side of it more often. I think his control is slightly off, causing him to fall behind where the hitters can just sit on that pitch and drive it the opposite way. He needs to establish command of the plate and bust some guys inside and hit his spots. But he has to be sharp to do it and right now he’s just not as sharp. What the underlying cause of this is is anyones guys. It could be lingering affects of his injury or it could just be one of those things that everyone goes through. And they do, even the best.

    I don’t buy any nonsense about him being lucky for two years. Cause it’s not just two years, he got to the majors somehow and it wasn’t just dumb luck.

  2. No, you do not get lucky making it to the majors. However, teams scout players much more in the majors (I think so at least) and after having been around the league a few times maybe teams just have him figured out.

    When you are a professional and have made it to the major leagues, odds are you were an all-star or close to being one at some level. However, what separates the average player from the great ones is that the great ones continue to adjust once they reach the majors. Maybe Ramirez hasn’t done a good enough job of adjusting and hitters are locked in on what he’s throwing.

    Then again, he could be a little tentative with his stuff because of his injury last year. Maybe even a little rusty. When he gets into situtions where he has to use his best stuff he doesn’t feel confident enough to throw it. Until this recent run of bad starts he may not have been in a situation where he really had to let it go, or a “pressure” situation.

  3. Good point about the scouting, that’s definitely a possibility. That’s something a lot of pitchers have had to overcome around their second year in the bigs though. If that’s the case he’ll just have to adjust and figure something out. It’s probably a combination of those.

  4. It’s one thing to figure it out, it’s completely another to get hitters to recognize it and adjust accordingly.

  5. I don’t think you make the majors by being lucky either, but I do believe that some experience a sophmore slump. Horacio may have missed his last year because of his injury (he only pitched 60.3 innings)and is experiencing it now. Look at Dontrelle Willis’ sophmore numbers:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/w/willido03.shtml

    Perhaps if he’d pitched more last year (and hitters had more scouting tapes to watch on him) he would have had a similar season. Not horrendous, but as Eric W put it, “adjusting”.

  6. Good points Mac, I think it’s a combination of all three.

    He was lucky to have an era of like 2.20 in nine starts last year, he won’t be that dominant in the majors. (He was also unlucky in run support to be 2-4, but that’s not really the issue).

    He’s been somewhat unlucky (ERA-wise) this season, like in San Diego. But he still gave up homers after the missed pop-outs. It’s not like his struggles are all stemming from bad breaks.

    I think the biggest problem is his recovering from shoulder injury. I agree that he has the same gameplan, but his pitches aren’t moving right now. He’s not fooling anyone.

  7. I wouldn’t say he was lucky to be in the major leagues, but I do definitely think he’s been quite lucky to have the success he has had so far. The Braves apparently think he’s the second coming of Tom Glavine. Which I assume is why he’s throwing fastballs low and away almost exclusively. I haven’t been paying as close attention as I’m sure some of you have, but I question whether or not he has the kind of precision necessary to pull that off. Not to mention the smarts to know when to mix in the change and occassional pitch inside.

    Maybe he can do all of this. But Glavine is a rare guy who has turned pretty average stuff into a Hall of Fame career with excellent control, intellegence and just being incredibly stubborn. It looks like Haracio may have the last part down, but I still have to question the rest of it.

  8. I think he’s hurt. For whatever reason, maybe he’s no longer able to release his change-up from the same point as his fastball, and he’s lost confidence as a result? If he’s unable to change speeds and mix pitches, there’s no way he’s going to come inside. He probably figures he’s safer sticking to the outside of the plate.

  9. Can I vote for all of the above? I sincerely believe that Ramirez is fixable and that Leo’s the man to help him. Grst explained the Brave’s basic philosophy so well above.
    By the way, Mac, doesn’t the outfield grass look splendid? I attribute it to the excessive amount of fertilizer being dumped by the corner outfielders.

  10. Another vote for all of the above. I don’t think Ramirez is anything other than a league-average starter, at best. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – it just means he shouldn’t be any more than a #3 or #4 starter. As long as the Braves recognize that, and let him go when he’s going to make too much to be used that way, we’re all right.

    I think his injury is still affecting his performance, even if it’s just rust/lack of stamina.

  11. I’m with Malone on the Damian Moss comparison. Ramirez allows too many baserunners and doesn’t appear to have the stuff to overcome that big disadvantage. Pitchers with his makeup have been successful before, but the odds are against him being any better than league average, as Leeds said. If I had to pass judgment now, I’d take Davies over Horacio when the other starters are healthy.

  12. Ramirez puts too many people on base and doesn’t strike enough out. You can get by with that if you’re superfreak Tom Glavine or, to a lesser extend, Tim Hudson. But Horacio Ramirez isn’t either of those guys. He’s probably not Damien Moss, but he’s not that much removed from him. His upside is Terry Mulholland.

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