Andrew Cashner is on the disabled list until at least Tuesday, June 19th. Yefry Ramirez got his first major league start yesterday afternoon in Cashner’s place. Right now it’s anyone’s guess who, between those two, will be taking the mound next Tuesday against the Washington Nationals.
Yesterday, the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina shared the results of Cashner’s MRI -- no structural damage in his injured lower back. In that same article, manager Buck Showalter and Cashner himself seemed fairly confident that he will be able to return from the disabled list when first eligible.
But is that the best plan, to rush Cashner back from such an injury?
Back injuries can be tricky; slow to progress and easy to re-injure. So while I like the optimism from Showalter and Cashner about his expedited return, it seems a bit early to be making any kind of proclamations.
Another reason for the Orioles to take their time with Cashner is his performance so far this season. Overall, he is 2-8 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 34 walks and 62 strikeouts in 13 starts covering 72.1 innings. In his last four starts, he is 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA and a staggering 2.14 WHIP. Just putting it out there, but maybe Cashner could benefit from a bit of rehab and a minor league start or two.
What could it hurt? The Orioles put Chris Tillman on the disabled list and sent him to Sarasota when he was struggling badly and he is still there. Not that I am comparing Cashner’s start to Tillman’s. But it just speaks to the greater issue of the Orioles needing to get all of their starting pitchers on the right track. Or replaced with someone who’s on the right track.
Alex Cobb is another culprit when it comes to weak links in the rotation. In 11 starts, he is 2-8 with a 7.23 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 14 walks and 37 strikeouts in 56 innings. If Ramirez doesn’t keep Cashner’s spot next turn through the rotation, maybe he should take Cobb’s spot for the time being.
Yefry Ramirez took the loss in his major league debut against the Red Sox yesterday, and despite his subpar stat line, he held his own against Boston’s high-powered offense. Ramirez lasted 4.1 hard fought innings, allowing four hits, three earned runs, two walks, six strikeouts and one home run. He threw 97 pitches total, including 57 strikes.
He only allowed one run, a Mookie Betts home run in the third, through his first four innings. He got into trouble in the fifth inning when he really began to tire, allowing a pair of baserunners before being replaced by Mike Wright. It was Wright who allowed those two runners to score, but since they reached base on Ramirez, he was ultimately charged with those runs after he had left the game.
Absolutely, there is room to improve for Ramirez. But he flashed his potential too on Wednesday afternoon against the Red Sox.
Ramirez started 2017 in the minor leagues with the New York Yankees before he was traded to the Orioles for international bonus money on July 31. Before his year and a half with the Yankees, he spent four years in the Arizona Diamondbacks system.
He spent his first two years in professional ball with Arizona in the Dominican Summer League. In 2012, when he was only 18-years-old, Ramirez pitched 24.2 innings, registering a 3.28 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP. The following year, he had a 3.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 60 innings pitched.
In 2014, Ramirez split time between the Rookie Level Pioneer and Arizona Leagues, throwing a combined 67.2 innings with a 3.06 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. 2015 was his last season with the Diamondbacks organization, where he did not fare so well in the Pioneer League. He had a 5.35 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 69 innings.
In 2016, he moved on to the Yankees after being selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Between Single-A and high Single-A, Ramirez had a 2.82 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. In 2017, with Baltimore (Double-A Bowie) and New York (Double-A Trenton), he had a 3.47 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
As you can see, Ramirez has some solid minor league numbers on his side. He has also shown an ability to steadily climb the minor league ranks, and he showed poise in his first big league start with the O‘s. Before his promotion to Baltimore this year, Ramirez was working with a 4.33 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 60.1 innings at Triple-A Norfolk.
In conclusion, Ramirez’s stay with the big league club will probably be short-lived. But is there a chance we could see him for at least another start or two? Sure. And I’m sure some of us are hoping for it, if only to keep seeing a fresh face and to inject some promising youth into this distressing 2018 Orioles team.