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Dock of the Rays: Erasmo Ramirez excelling under Jim Hickey

Or how the four-seam fastball breathes life into a strikezone.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The unequivocal Jason Hanselman, over at Dock of the Rays, has lent his analysis our way once again with a nice deep dive on the improvement of Erasmo Ramirez.

The long-reliever acquired just before the season, when the injuries piled high, put up a good showing in his one-and-only Spring Training start, but quickly crumpled in the regular season. From there, we can only assume, Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey performed some sorcery.

Enter Jason:

The best time to get through to someone regardless of their troubles is when they're staring at the bottom willing to try anything that might lead to more success. Erasmo Ramirez knows what it's like to look in the mirror and hate everything he sees, but with the help of this mentor it looks like he has made some strides. To wit:

It doesn't take a magnifying glass to see that Erasmo has shrugged off the nicknames, and with good reason. His ERA and FIP, particularly relative to the league, are wonderful - as is that 53.1% GB rate - but as Jason notes it's zone has seen some of the biggest improvements.

Less contact and more whiffs for the Z- rates within the strike zone.

So what's next in Erasmo's development to be elite?

Eliminate your worst pitch and focus on your best one.

It's not that simple, though, so you'd best head over to the site and check out the many-many graphs compiled for your understanding. You won't be shocked to see the change on the rise and the two-seam fastball heading low as an overall share, giving way to the four-seam variety in a dramatic fashion. Why?

The two-seamer works best when it's down in the zone, but that's exactly where a pitcher like Ramirez needs to be throwing his change up.

Jason then shows how the variation in fastball usage has breathed life into Erasmo's strikezone.

It's great stuff. Go read it!