If you slept wrong last night, I have good news. Most of you slept better than Erasmo Ramirez, who will be sidelined for at least two weeks after Mariners’ doctors diagnosed him with a strained lat.
Erasmo Ramirez has a minor lat strain and has been shut down for two weeks— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) February 18, 2018
After experiencing mild discomfort, Ramirez was immediately shut down and sent for an MRI yesterday. The diagnosis of any injury is discouraging, but a lat strain is particularly worrisome. Grade 1 lat strains do indeed usually take just two-to-three weeks to settle, while Grade 2 varieties can take over a month. Grade 3 strains are far more severe, and can result in missing half or even a full season. Last year, Charlie Morton was sent to the 10-day DL with a lat strain on May 28th and returned to MLB action with seemingly no side-effects on July 7th - just over a month later. On the more extreme side, Noah Syndergaard missed over five months last year with a lat strain which he either attempted to or was allowed to pitch through initially. Jake Peavy missed an entire season with a Grade 3 strain and required surgery, which is the most extreme possible iteration, but why not get that fear churned up fully?
For reference, this is a skeleton’s lat:
Based on the minimal discomfort described, there’s reasonable hope that Erasmo’s injury is of the Grade 1 or 2 variety at worst, but even the least of that would put Ramirez behind schedule in preparation for the season.
The other key question then, is whether this is the catalyst for the front office to make an addition to the rotation. While there are several pitchers still remaining on the market, only a few likely represent a dramatic upgrade over Ramirez at this point. 2017 trained Mariners players and fans for Yovani Gallardo, No. 1 starter, however, so even beyond Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, there are pitchers who could be a fit. Whether they’re an option depends on many unknowns - a front office philosophy adverse to free agent spending, an ownership that may not be willing to spend more on their product, internal metrics that have led the Mariners to believe their players are more than the public perception deems, or any number of alternatives.
It’s February 18th. Erasmo Ramirez’s first projected start wouldn’t be until April 3rd. There’s still plenty of time, but that calendar just got shorter.