Throughout his debut season with the Miami Marlins, 27-year-old reliever A.J. Ramos has continued to progress despite having to go through the long and arduous season. As Sun-Sentinel scribe Craig Davis described in his piece about the right-hander, Ramos has acquired a certain level of respect and appreciation from manager Mike Redmond to his fellow bullpen pitchers.
The self-named "Mexicutioner" has been living up to that destructive nickname since the All-Star break as he's been plowing down batters left to right which is apparent by his 10.38 strikeotus per nine innings. Unlike a majority of strikeout-minded relievers who use their high-powered fastballs to mow down opponents, Ramos uses a combination of extremely solid ability to control his pitches inside the strike zone with a combination of various off-speed pitches to fool the opposition. Perhaps it's because of his ability to succeed as a reliever with a fastball is one of the main reasons why Ramos is able to succeed against both righties (.185 BA) and lefties (.216 BA).
While other pitchers both in and out of the bullpen start to struggle as they reach August and September, Ramos has improved on a month-by-month basis. As previously mentioned, Ramos's strikeout rate since the All-Star break has been extremely solid but what's been more impressive has been his 1.16 which is spectacular for a reliever who pitches about an inning or two per appearance.
When it's all set and done, the impressive second half from A.J. Ramos will most likely be forgotten from the majority of Marlins fans, which is a real shame. The 2013 season for this Miami franchise has been awful on a multitude of different levels, but one of the bright spots will be the reliable arm in the bullpen that belongs to Ramos. Of course, things can turn sour for him in the 2014 season because of the unpredictability of bullpen arms which could be an elevated case for a pitcher like Ramos who depends on his ability to control off-speed pitches.
With that said, Ramos is going to be one of the bullpen arms that Redmond will probably lock into next year's roster. While that doesn't mean that much in the grand scheme of things, it's still an improvement on the huge level of unpredictability that the team had going into the current season. As long as he's able to keep a respectable amount of control over those off-speed pitches, Ramos will be that solid and reliable bullpen arm.