What role will J.C. Ramirez fill for the LA Angels upon returning from DL

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 07: Manager Mike Scioscia, Luis Valbuena
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 07: Manager Mike Scioscia, Luis Valbuena /

The LA Angels have a lot of  question marks going into the 2019 season.  Most of these revolve around the starting rotation and bullpen.

Injuries have plagued the team in recent years, but the team is starting to get healthy and one key player who could provide a lift is J.C. Ramirez. Ramirez came to the Angels in 2016 after he was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.

That season Ramirez pitched out of the bullpen and was stellar going 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA and one save.  He had a 1.19 WHIP in 43 appearances striking out 31 batters in 46 innings with only 13 walks.

In 2017 the Angels decided that Ramirez could be a starter and he did very well starting 24 games  for the Angels and going 11-10 with a 4.15 ERA striking out 105 batters in 147.1 innings and providing some stability in lieu of all the injuries the Angels suffered in 2017 to their starting rotation.

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In 2018 Ramirez won a spot in the starting rotation thanks to a strong Spring Training striking out 13 batters in 13.1 innings of work. However, Ramirez had his 2018 season cut short due to a torn UCL in his right elbow which put him on the DL in April where he will remain until close to the All-Star Break this season.

However, when Ramirez comes off the disabled list how will the Angels be inclined to use him and his upper 90’s fastball which registered consistently between 96 and 99 miles per hour before his injury.

There is a logjam of both starters and relievers for the Angels going into Spring Training.  Of course there is always the injury factor that could determine Ramirez’s role upon his return from the DL.

In my opinion unless the starting staff has been decimated by injuries by the time Ramirez’s comes back, he should be used out of the bullpen.  With Ramirez, Justin Anderson, and also Kenyan Middleton to support closer Cody Allen, the Angels could potentially have one of the strongest bullpens in the American League which could take some pressure off the starting rotation to have to go deep into games.

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Also by putting Ramirez in the bullpen, it will be less stress on his arm coming off Tommy John surgery.  We will have to see what the state of affairs is for the Angels when Ramirez and Middleton both return.