Yankees new reliever survives travel scare, joins team to boost bullpen

Nick Ramirez of the New York Yankees with his wife and daughter during the spring training camp in Tampa.
Daniel Nolan
Wednesday April 26, 2023

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The New York Yankees called up left-handed pitcher Nick Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in an effort to bolster their bullpen. The decision was made the previous night after the bullpen was stretched thin with 5 1/3 innings in 16 consecutive games. In order to make room for Ramirez on the 26-man roster, relief pitcher Greg Weissert was sent to Triple-A.

Ramirez, who is a left-handed pitcher, last appeared in the majors in 2021, was called upon right away and finished out a game against the Twins by tossing the final two innings. He allowed one hit and two walks without allowing a run, striking out one batter in a game that ended in the Yankees’ 6-2 defeat.

With key guys out with injuries and a continued inability to close out games, the Yankees’ bullpen is in a tough spot. They anticipate, though, that with Ramirez’s addition, their bullpen will show substantial improvement and a renewed sense of purpose. Since a spot was available on the 40-man roster, the Yankees were able to add Ramirez without needing to make any additional roster adjustments.

Who is Nick Ramirez?

He is a 32-year-old left-handed pitcher from California. After being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, Nick Ramirez spent a number of years in their minor league organization before making his major league debut in 2016. Later, in 2018, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers, but he played there for two seasons before being released in 2020.

Despite this setback, the Yankees inked Ramirez to a minor league contract this summer, and he has performed admirably for Triple-A RailRiders. The Yankees were impressed by his 2.45 ERA and six strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched across four appearances.

Do the Yankees need him?

This year has been difficult for the Yankees bullpen, as numerous veteran pitchers have been hampered by injuries. As a consequence, the team’s younger pitchers have struggled to secure victories. As a veteran pitcher with expertise as both a starter and a reliever, Ramirez’s arrival could provide some much-needed relief. The fact that he throws left-handed gives him an advantage over right-handed pitchers.

Aaron Boone, manager of the New York Yankees, has expressed confidence in Ramirez, stating that the team quickly recognized his potential. Despite the fact that Ramirez was not initially on the 40-man roster, the Yankees were able to acquire him without making any further adjustments. Uncertain as to his role in the bullpen, he could close games, set up other pitchers, or even supplant struggling starters with multiple innings pitched.

“We’ve liked him all spring,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We felt early on that there was a role there. Obviously not being on the [40-man] roster, made it a little more challenging initially for him. But I think from Jump Street for myself to our pitching group and front office, we very much felt like this guy was going to play a role for us this year.”

The Yankees expect Ramirez to make a substantial contribution to the team’s success this season, as Boone has praised his abilities and versatility.

Ramirez boost for Yankees bullpen

The Yankees could get some much-needed help from Ramirez, though his exact role in the bullpen is still up in the air. Because of his experience as a starter and a reliever, he can pitch in a variety of situations.

The Yankees’ bullpen has been struggling, but Ramirez may help by closing games or setting up the team’s other pitchers. He might also be used as a long reliever, stepping in to throw multiple innings in relief of a struggling starter.

“He’s done a good job down there,” Boone added. “I feel like there’s an number of roles that he can fill. He’s built up a little bit in that he can be a guy that can give you a couple of things. There could be some some matchup situations where he could fit in as well.”

If the Yankees are determined to turn their season around, adding Nick Ramirez to their bullpen could be a game-changer. Due to key player injuries, Ramirez provides an experienced presence and a fresh arm to a struggling bullpen. Regardless of his eventual role in the bullpen, the team will tremendously benefit from his versatility.

The importance of the Yankees’ bullpen will increase as the season progresses. Nick Ramirez’s addition to the squad improves their chances of winning crucial games.

“I think that was one of the things I ran into in spring training when I did give up hits and runs, I was falling behind and having to come back into the strike zone rather than getting ahead and being able to go at hitters differently,” Ramirez said. “It’s just getting strike one and then being able to expand off the plate and then change speeds.”

Ramirez joined despite travel woes

On Tuesday, Nick Ramirez had a busy day as he traveled to Minnesota to join the Yankees and help strengthen the bullpen. The left-handed pitcher was brought up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the Twins game. After an early morning flight with Delta was canceled, Ramirez had a busy morning getting from Boston to Minnesota. He was unfazed by the delays in his trip and even laughed about it later.

Ramirez took a cab to the airport around 5:30 a.m. He was departing Boston and the RailRiders before they began a series on Tuesday against Triple-A Worcester, the Red Sox’s farm team. Then, after he checked his baseball equipment with Delta, his 8:10 a.m. flight was canceled.

“Panic!” Ramirez said. “I knew I was gonna get here. We had plenty of time. My main concern was my baseball back was under. So I asked them if they could pull it in. They said, ‘yeah, we put the submission in, but no guarantees.’ That really made me feel good.”

Before Ramirez took the mound in Minnesota, he and pitching coach Matt Blake reviewed the scouting reports from the opposing team. The Yankees are optimistic that he can aid them in the stretch run because he allowed no runs in the final two innings of the game.

After a rough stretch in which they played 16 games in 16 days and used their bullpen extensively in Monday’s loss to the Twins, the Yankees promoted Ramirez. Ramirez was ready to contribute in any way he could see fit because the team needed new blood. The left-hander was concerned only with his performance on the mound and not his place on the squad.

The Yankees also sent Harrison Bader to Triple-A as part of his rehabilitation after promoting Jose Ramirez. The Double-A Somerset Patriots are counting on Bader to contribute after he appeared in two games with them earlier this season.

Despite Ramirez’s struggles on Tuesday, he remained upbeat and eager to contribute to the Yankees in any way he could.

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