Edubray Ramos is Becoming the RH Adam Morgan
I wrote a bit ago about what has become of Adam Morgan in the Phillies bullpen. The summary to all of it was that Morgan was throwing his fastball harder, he was throwing his fastball less, and he was dominating same side platoon splits. The newest pitcher to follow most of that model is Edubray Ramos. Ramos came up to the Phillies last year and flashed some potential with a mid-90s fastball and a good looking breaking ball. Ramos was a lock to make the Phillies this spring and looked to be in the high leverage mix with Benoit, Neshek, and Neris. From April 3 until June 25, Ramos pitched 31 innings with a 5.52 ERA and 22 walks to 38 strikeouts, including 9 runs in his last 5 games where he recorded a total of 4 outs.
The Phillies demoted Ramos to AAA Lehigh Valley. Around an injury, he pitched 11.2 innings with a 1.54 ERA and 4 walks to 10 strikeouts. Ramos came back up to the majors at the beginning of August, and since then:
23.2 IP – 3.04 ERA – 6 BB – 34 K
Ramos’ ERA is upped by garbage time run against the Giants on August 19 in which he allowed 6 hits and 5 runs in 0.2 innings. Outside of that game, Ramos’ runs allowed line up with the sterling walk and strikeout rates. The walk rate in particular is encouraging as Ramos was always a player in the minors who kept his walks under control. The way that Ramos turned his year around is very familiar.
1. Fastball Velocity
It actually turns out that Ramos is throwing slower, about a mile per hour slower than his 2017 peak. He is still averaging around 94, touching up to 96. This is about where Adam Morgan is sitting now.
2. He Stopped Throwing His Fastball
Here is Ramos’ pitch usage this season. I combined his slider and curveball since they are manipulations of the same pitch.
Ramos last season was a roughly 50-50 split between his fastball and breaking ball. While, Ramos started throwing his breaking ball more earlier in the season, he has really upped the divide since returning from AAA. Much like Morgan, Ramos has good reason to do so. His fastball is a better pitch than Morgan’s, but it is only generating a miss on 16.8% of swings this season (he was at 15.0% in 2016). Meanwhile, his breaking ball posting a swinging whiff percentage of 37.4%.
3. He Is Dominating Same Side Hitting
Since returning to the majors, Ramos has faced 63 right handed batters, 29 have struck out (46.0%) and 14 have reached base (9 hits and 5 walks). Among all pitchers (min 20 IP vs RHBs) only Kenley Jansen (49.2%) and Craig Kimbrel (48.5%) have posted strikeout rates above 46% (Ramos is at 35% on the season which is good for 19th overall). He is still walking right handers at an elevated rate (7.9%) relative to the best pitchers in baseball, but he is on par with some of the second tier of right handed relievers.
The problem is that much like Adam Morgan, the changes that have made him dominant against same side pitching may have made him weak against opposite side pitching. In a small 34 batter sample size since returning, left handed batters are hitting .365/.382/.576 off of Ramos. He has been able to limit his walks so far, but his 14.7% K% stands in stark contrast to his success vs righties. Part of the problem has been his breaking ball which has not historically fared well against LHPs.
So where does this leave us with Ramos? In kind of the same place as with Adam Morgan, which is potentially good bullpen asset, but not a closer or maybe even 8th inning candidate. If Ramos can keep this up, he and Morgan would make for a nice mix and match through the 6th-8th innings, but unless he can really find another weapon vs LH batters he is not going to be a run him out in the same inning everyday type of reliever. Outside of his usage long term, it is worth looking to see how the trend of fastball usage continues to other Phillies relievers and maybe even into the starting pitching group.