JC Ramirez seemed to always have trouble translating his minor league successes to the majors, and the beginning of 2016 made it seem like more of the same. He managed to garner a callup to the Reds in late April, but the 28-year-old could only muster a putrid 6.40 ERA and 2.0 HR/9 across 32.1 innings before Cincinnati decided to cut ties with him in June. The Angels swiped him off waivers shortly thereafter, and despite his rough numbers in the past, he proved to be an effective reliever for the Halos. The right-hander concluded his time in Anaheim with a 2.91 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and even one save he picked up at the end of September. Ramirez will get stretched out and get a chance to make the club as a starter in 2017, but this has the feel of desperation on the part of Anaheim, so owners in most formats can afford to take a wait-and-see approach.
Ramirez is still a candidate to make the Angels' starting rotation out of camp, The Orange County Register reports. The 27-year-old turned in his best outing of the spring Tuesday, tossing five innings of one-run ball while striking out six in a win over the Reds. After the game, manager Mike Scioscia said that Ramirez was still in the running for a starter's spot. He is still on the outside looking in, but the former reliever picked a great time to have a dominant outing. Even if Ramirez doesn't make the rotation, he has a good shot at making the 25-man roster as a reliever.
Ramirez has begun throwing a curveball in an effort to transition to a starter, The Orange County Register reports. Ramirez was told he would compete for a starting rotation spot this spring, so he added another off-speed pitch to help keep hitters off balance after relying on a power fastball and slider as a reliever. Pitching coach Charlie Nagy has noticed a difference, citing Ramirez's ability to throw the pitch for strikes to lefties. The 28-year-old remains a long shot to make the rotation, but the club could keep him around for Opening Day as a swingman out of the bullpen.
Ramirez -- who is being stretched out as a starter -- made his spring training debut Monday, pitching 1.2 innings while giving up a run on two hits while walking two and striking out three. He said after the game that he was feeling fatigued, The Orange County Register reports. Feeling fatigued after throwing less than two innings is a sign that the Ramirez project may not come to fruition come Opening Day. It is early, so there is time for the former reliever to build up his arm strength and stamina this spring. The Angels can either keep Ramirez on track to become a starter, which would likely land him in Triple-A Salt Lake to start the year. If the team opts to scrap the plan, then he would likely join the big league club as a rookie, a role he posted a 4.35 ERA in over 78.2 innings last season.
Ramirez got the call in the ninth inning against the A's on Wednesday and worked a clean frame with a strikeout for his second career save and first as an Angel. He saved one game for the Reds earlier this year and has spent a lot of time in high-leverage situations for the Angels, thanks in no small part to the 2.78 ERA and 1.19 WHIP he's notched over 46.1 innings since coming over to Anaheim. It's surprising to see them turn to him in the ninth with how effective Andrew Bailey's been, though.
Ramirez has surrendered six runs on eight hits with just two strikeouts over 6.2 innings during August. Ramirez had been a revelation since being claimed off waivers from the Reds on June 26. He posted a 1.20 ERA in July, and started to see regular work in close games after struggling in Cincinnati with an ERA over 6. Since the turn of the month though, Ramirez has an 8.10 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.