Of all the people, who would have thought Erasmo Ramirez would make the Tampa Bay Rays such a hot baseball pick? Actually, this was supposed to happen all along.
Jason's 2015 record as of June 29: 28-19, plus-8.84 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
Don't say we didn't tell you about the Tampa Bay Rays. After experiencing some turbulence in the early months of the 2015 regular season, the Rays started turning it on in June, winning 14 of their first 19 games to take over first place in the AL East. Alas, Tampa Bay has cooled off again; Monday's 7-1 loss to Cleveland (+110 away) puts the Rays at 2-5 over their last seven games, dropping them to 42-35 (+5.92 units).
The Tribe could use a few more wins like that. They're fighting for last place in the AL Central at 33-41, and they're one of the least profitable teams in the majors at –17.22 units. Fancy stats won't help Cleveland, either. Neither will having to face Erasmo Ramirez (3.70 FIP) this Tuesday night at the Trop. But if anyone can save the Tribe in this one, Danny Salazar (3.56 FIP) could be the man. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Eastern.
At one time, Ramirez (the right-handed one) was considered one of the better pitching prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization. Ramirez posted a 3.55 FIP in 59.0 innings of work during his 2012 rookie campaign, but he injured his triceps before the 2013 season, and things went downhill after that. Strap on your safety belts, folks:
2012 (3.55 FIP): 3-5, –1.03 units
2013 (4.83 FIP): 6-7, +1.33 units
2014 (5.38 FIP): 5-9, –3.57 units
Too bad for Ramirez that the Mariners didn't have Robinson Cano around in 2012. Anyway, just before the start of the 2015 season, Ramirez got traded to Tampa Bay for Mike Montgomery in an exchange of former prospects. It seems to be working out for both teams; Montgomery (2.98 FIP) is off to a great start in his MLB debut, and Ramirez has vaulted to fifth place on the MLB money charts at +7.21 units on a team record of 8-2.
Salazar (9-4, +4.40 units) has been one of the few bright spots in Cleveland this year. In his third year in the bigs, the 25-year-old Dominican comes loaded with a 95-mph fastball and a ridiculous change-up that combine to generate 11.47 strikeouts per nine innings. Salazar's record would be even better if it weren't for that .323 BABIP. Then again, the Tribe have given Salazar 5.32 runs of support per game. They usually score just 3.93 runs per game.
Cleveland supporters are also concerned over Salazar's last couple of starts. He didn't reach the fifth inning in either of them, and last week against the Detroit Tigers (+102 away), Salazar was touched for six earned runs in a 7-3 loss. It's boom or bust when you add Salazar to your baseball picks, that's how questionable his command is, but the risk has been worth the reward thus far.
Given how poor Cleveland's defense is, we figure Salazar's BABIP is more sustainable than his run support. So let's take a chance on a Tampa Bay hitter – and we mean take a chance, since none of the current Rays has ever faced Salazar in the majors. INF Logan Forsythe (.824 OPS) appears to have found his groove again after slumping in early June; he's only 41% owned in Yahoo leagues at press time, so if you dumped Forsythe before, maybe it's time for a second chance.
We feel the same about the Rays. They're available as small home dogs on Tuesday's MLB odds board, so make sure to shop around for the right price as always, and may the sphere be with you.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Rays +110 at Bovada