2016 stats: 1-4, 2.81 ERA, 64 IP, 40/43 saves, 1.36 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 1.4 WAR
Even though A.J. Ramos collected 32 saves in 2015, Miami’s 2016 closer was still up in the air when Spring Training came around due to the emergence of Carter Capps as one of baseball’s most dominant relievers.
The position battle would not last long, however, as Capps had to undergo Tommy John surgery not long after spring games began. The role was given to Ramos based on past performances, and the right-hander enjoyed a strong enough first half (96.4 save percentage, 2.25 ERA) to warrant being named one of the National League’s All-Stars.
Ramos’ numbers tailed-off slightly after the Midsummer Classic, but he was still one of Miami’s most effective pitchers during the 2016 season, although some statistics may be a cause for concern heading into next season.
The 1.36 WHIP was a career high by far for Ramos, which led to many tense finishes for those watching the games. It is hard to remember a 1-2-3 ninth inning for Ramos this season but, luckily for Miami, he managed to tightrope out of danger most of the time. This is most likely the reason for the speculation regarding David Phelps taking over closing duties for the Marlins in 2017.
Strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) were also down for A.J. Ramos from a year ago, which helped to create the sense that he slightly lost his dominance over the course of the 2016 campaign.
On the other hand, Ramos also put up some encouraging numbers in other categories. For instance, he matched a career-low by allowing only 0.1 home runs per nine innings after home runs became an issue for him last season.
Even if the Marlins manage to lure Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen to Miami through free agency, they should strongly reconsider retaining Ramos despite his rapidly increasing salary.
Only five other closers recorded more saves than Ramos in 2016, and he proved to be more than capable of pitching out of trouble this year. This would be an asset to this team in the long run, especially if he was removed from the closer role and forced to pitch earlier in the game, which may often be the case if the Marlins cannot significantly improve their rotation this winter.
Overall, A.J. Ramos came up with the goods more often than not in 2016 by posting a career-high 40 saves and a 93% save rate. While relief pitchers are volatile in today’s game, the Marlins would be foolish to not bring back Ramos after his successful season at the back end of the bullpen, even if it means parting with more money than they would like to.