Versatile Erasmo earns 1st win for a Rays starter

Versatile Erasmo earns 1st win for a Rays starter

ST. PETERSBURG -- If you took a poll before the season started on which Rays starter would collect the first win of 2016, you would have a few popular choices.

Chris Archer? Most Likely.

Matt Moore? Not a bad guess.

Drew Smyly? Pretty safe bet as well.

Erasmo Ramirez?

The definite dark horse of the lot for many reasons -- the biggest being that he started the year in the bullpen -- brought home the first win for a Rays starter in the team's 11th game, a 7-2 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night.

"I'm glad I'm the first one," Ramirez said. "But at the same time, I know the team has been doing good, but hasn't had any good luck."

Yes, run support hasn't been there for his fellow starters, but dating back to the start of last season, it would surprise many that Ramirez's 13 victories leads the staff.

Those 13 wins surpass team ace Archer despite nine fewer starts.

It doesn't matter if it's the bullpen, where Ramirez has three scoreless innings to his credit, or jumping in as the team's fifth starter, he still hasn't allowed a run this season.

Ramirez throws out Garcia

Ramirez, who hadn't thrown over 50 pitches in a month, is the only Major League pitcher with a win as a starter and reliever this season.

"Don't care about what role it is," Ramirez said. "I just want to go and pitch, that's my mindset for everything."

Manager Kevin Cash was quite the soothsayer pregame -- praising Ramirez's efficiency and predicting he would give his club between 60 to 65 pitches.

Against the White Sox, he gave the manager 66 pitches, 47 for strikes in 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

"Erasmo provided a much-needed really good start," Cash said. "He's just got a very efficient way about him, goes out there and attacks, does not get away from the strike zone too often."

Yes, the Rays' own Swiss Army knife of a hurler has proven he can deliver no matter where he is used.

"Just know my routine, that's the most important [aspect]," Ramirez said. "Just know what situation I can get in and which one I cannot, so that way I just prepare myself to be ready."

Ready for anything, that's been Ramirez so far for the Rays.

Mike Nabors is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.