Cubs Pitching: Neil Ramirez poised for big 2015 campaign


The Chicago Cubs pitching has been overshadowed in the past few seasons on all levels of the organization. Because of the abundance of good hitting prospects in the minors like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber – there’s a belief that the pitching isn’t as good. That thinking seemed to trickle into Wrigley, where even with the years some of the staff had, there wasn’t much talk. 

So..let’s talk. Specifically, Neil Ramirez. Just be ready to vote a Cubs relief pitcher into the All-Star game.

Ramirez was another spectacular addition in the Matt Garza trade with the Texas Rangers. Mike Olt, another in that deal, was highlighted by our Jacob Misener recently. Ramirez? He was the “player to be named later”. His success could help solidify this trade as one of the most lopsided in Cubs’ history, and in their favor for once.

Once a Baseball Prospectus Top 100 (No. 77 in 2012), Ramirez worked primarily as a starter in the Rangers organization. But as we often see, as a pitcher you take your break wherever you can get it. Jeff Samardzija was shuffled back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. I think it’s best to drop these guys in one or the other, and let them go from there.

Ramirez hasn’t given up on the idea either, but with his success last season – he’s just ready to go out and help the Cubs win.

Ramirez, 25, posted a 1.44 ERA, and a 1.5 WHIP, while striking out 10.9 batter per nine inning – tops on the team. Not bad in his first taste of the Majors.

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But it’s not simply his talent and potential that will lead to success in 2015. A big part of it will be Joe Maddon. Maddon is not your typical “by the book” manager. He loves his metrics, and isn’t a fan of roles in the bullpen. He will use a pitcher wherever he feels the advantage is, and Ramirez will often have it.

He possesses one of the toughest sliders in the league to hit, and it doesn’t just get out righties. While lefties did see the ball better and walk 11 times compared to six on the right-side, they batted only .200 against him. He allowed only a .174 average to right-handers, and was utterly dominant.

Ramirez had a short stint on the DL in July, but held up very well for his first season out of the bullpen. With his stuff, and how I foresee Maddon utilizing him this year – I believe he’ll be one more piece to the elusive puzzle that is closer to completion.