By Jason Shetler
Prior to last season, the Pirates obtained Arquimedes Caminero from the Miami Marlins in an effort to bolster their bullpen depth. He had a very impressive showing in Spring Training, and made the Opening Day roster. Caminero was a pleasant surprise in the bullpen, as he put up a 3.62 ERA along with an 8.8 K/9 in 73 appearances. What led to his success was being able to locate a fastball that averaged 97.8 mph, which was second highest among all big league relievers behind only Aroldis Chapman. Caminero also added a splitter to his repertoire in 2015, and that pitch was effective for him as well.
So far in the early going of 2016, Caminero has been really struggling, as he’s posted an ERA of 5.52 and has walked batters at a 6.8 ratio. His K/9 is down from last season at 8.0. With the increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts, it’s no surprise that his Fielding Independent Pitching is higher at 6.45. Fastball velocity hasn’t been an issue for Caminero. In fact, it’s actually a tick higher this season at 98.0 mph. Probably the most discouraging stat for him right now is the ability to throw first pitch strikes. Last season, he had a first pitch strike percentage of 62.3%. That figure is down 10% this year at 52.4. Caminero currently has a .356 BABIP, which should balance itself out, if he’s able to limit the walks. Since he’s out of options, the Pirates might have to consider placing him on the DL with a “phantom injury”, should the command problems continue. By doing that, it would allow Caminero to work on his mechanics, and see if he can get back to where he was in 2015.