PHILADELPHIA — Orioles rookie right-hander Yefry Ramírez has “got my eye,” manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday, boosting the 24-year-old’s value going forward as the team looks to find its fifth starter.
Ramírez’s only blemish in a 4-1 loss to the Phillies came after a walk and a double in the fifth inning put two runners on base for a topspin ground ball that went under Chris Davis’ glove for a two-run error. Up until that inning, he’d faced the minimum 12 batters. In Showalter’s eyes, it was essentially five scoreless innings for Ramírez in his second major league start.
“He’s got a feel for it,” Showalter said. “He’s got a nice demeanor to him. This is a nice game to pitch in — 4 o’clock, kind of hot. But that’s a good team over there on the road. The thing I like about him is he can defend himself against left-handed hitters, and that’s what you’ve got to.”
Typically, Showalter said, Ramírez does that with his changeup, which is “one of Yefry’s bread-and-butter things to separate him up here.”
But Ramírez didn’t have much of a feel for it, and showed something pitching without his one above-average pitch Wednesday. He featured the slider much more often in five shutout innings of relief Thursday against the Seattle Mariners than he did his major league debut June 13 against Boston, and got twice as many swinging strikes on the slider (six) as he had in his previous two major league outings combined, according to MLB Statcast data from BaseballSavant.com.
Showalter said pitching coach Roger McDowell has made some adjustments to the pitch, and “Yefry’s really excited about his slider.”
“It definitely makes me a more complete pitcher,” Ramírez said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “Hitters don’t see me as a two-pitch pitcher right now. They need to take into account that I can throw three pitches, so I’m just glad that it’s working and I’m going to continue to work on it to, to continue to execute the plan and help my team.”
With Wednesday’s start, Ramírez has a 2.51 ERA (four earned runs in 14 1/3 innings) with 13 strikeouts and a 0.84 WHIP. Next time his rotation spot comes up will be Monday’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees, and Ramírez has done plenty to earn a start in one of those games.
Should he be granted one, he’ll only be building on what he believes has been the greatest benefit of this major league opportunity.
“I think getting big-league hitter out, it’s really helpful to me, … gaining more confidence every time I go out there,” Ramírez said. “Just getting those players out, it just helps with experience and with my confidence.”