Sign in / Join
1220

Angels pitcher JC Ramirez’s rise has been due to a curveball of sorts

Only one major league starter throws harder than the Angels’ JC Ramirez: New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard. But it is not Ramirez’s powerful velocity that has fueled his rise into the Angels’ rotation. It is his development of a second breaking pitch, a curveball, to accompany his longstanding slider-and-fastball combination.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that Ramirez’s introduction of a curveball into his repertoire better delineated what he wanted out of his slider. It’s now sharper, with a defined break, though still less steep than the new curveball.

Data captured by BrooksBaseball.net shows Ramirez’s slider moves more than an inch differently, on average, than it did last season. Scioscia described such a development as "not uncommon.”

“A lot of times, guys who have sliders a little bit flat will try to throw a curveball, and then they go back to a slider and get the depth they want,” Scioscia said. “In JC’s case, that definitely happened. His curveball’s legitimate.

“He has really good command of his breaking stuff, and his slider has been a benefactor of his mechanics and what he’s trying to do throwing a curveball.”

Ramirez began to experiment with the curveball during the offseason, which he spent in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua. The Angels asked him to prepare to start in spring training, and so he came armed with a new pitch.

He started all spring, opened the season in the bullpen, then took over injured Garrett Richards’ vacated rotation spot. Tuesday marked his third start. As a starter, Ramirez is throwing his four-seam fastball at an average of 97 mph, second in the majors to Syndergaard.

Short hops

Oakland altered its rotation to accommodate the pending activation of right-hander Kendall Graveman from the disabled list. He’ll start Thursday, instead of Jharel Cotton. The Angels are starting right-hander Ricky Nolasco that night, making for an odd rematch of opening-day starters off schedule. … Outfielder Eric Young Jr.’s 1.049 on-base-plus-slugging percentage through 17 games leads the Angels’ triple-A affiliate and is ninth in the Pacific Coast League. Two of the players ahead of him, top prospects Christian Arroyo and Cody Bellinger, were promoted to the majors this week by the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. … The Angels promoted outfield prospect Michael Hermosillo from Class-A Inland Empire to double-A Mobile. Hermosillo, 22, logged an .871 OPS in 13 games at the lower level. He impressed in big league camp this spring.

Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura