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Seattle Turns to Struggling Erasmo Ramirez to End 7-Game Losing Streak

Houston starter Scott Feldman has been placed on the 15-day disabled list so the Astros have called up Collin McHugh to make an emergency start in Seattle. The decision by Houston to call upon McHugh for tonight’s game can be best described as an act of desperation as he is 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA and 1.80 WHIP in fifteen major league appearances – nine starts – for the Mets and Rockies. Consider the fact that McHugh yielded 50 runs on 72 hits in just 47.1 innings of work last year. McHugh was designated for assignment by Colorado in December before being claimed off waivers by Houston during the off-season.

Prior to last season wherein he compiled an 8.94 ERA with New York and Colorado, McHugh was 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in eight appearances for the Mets in 2012 (21.1 IP; 27 H; 18 ER; 17/8 K/BB ratio). Matters only got worse for McHugh during this year’s spring training where he was 0-1 with a 14.29 ERA and 2.47 WHIP in three outings. McHugh will also be on a strict pitch count tonight as he’s not completely stretched out, and Houston manager Bo Porter expects to use his bullpen early and often.

As for Houston’s bullpen, well, let’s just say that it’s an unqualified disaster. Houston relievers own a 5.01 ERA and 1.63 WHIP this season, including a 5.62 ERA and 1.80 WHIP versus division opponents. In contrast, Seattle’s bullpen boasts a 3.36 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 2014, including a 2.84 ERA and 1.21 WHIP at home and a 2.84 ERA and 1.30 WHIP at night. Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez should regain his form against an anemic Houston lineup that is batting a league-worst .196 with a .261 on base percentage (2.9 runs per game), including hitting .186 with a .247 on base percentage versus division opponents (2.7 runs per game) and .204 with a .249 on base percentage versus southpaws (2.2 runs per game).

Ramirez is confident in his ability to bounce back from a couple of bad outings. “I know I’m better than that. I can do it. I know it. I feel it. I just have to realize what I did and keep pounding the strike zone and find the right mechanic[s] when I get ahead of hitters,” Ramirez said. “If I need one pitch or two pitches, just go do it and don’t be thinking too much about strikeouts. Just make them swing the bat and get ground balls or pop ups.” Seattle pitching coach Rick Waits has been working with Ramirez to regain the downward angle in his throwing motion that allows him to keep pitches low in the strike zone. “It’s just a matter of working ahead more often, throwing less pitches and trying to get contact on his fastball and changeup,” Waits said.

From a technical standpoint, Houston is a money-burning 17-60 (-26.8 units) versus teams allowing less than 4.3 runs per game, 30-82 (-32.9 units) after losing four of its last five games and 50-145 (-48.1 units) as underdogs of +150 or more over the last three seasons. In contrast, Seattle is a profitable 39-25 (+24.7 units) after losing seven of its last eight games. Take Seattle and invest with confidence.

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