MIAMI -- When the season heats up, look for A.J. Ramos' velocity to pick up as well.
The Marlins right-hander realizes his fastball is down a bit from a year ago. According to Fangraphs.com, Ramos' velocity is 91.3 mph, compared to 93.3 in 2013.
It's not a reason for concern, Ramos says.
"As the season goes and my arm starts feeling better and I'm able to pitch and throw hard. ... Last year I came in and I was just trying to throw the ball as hard as I could," the right-hander said. "At the end of the season, my velo was down also, and I learned how to pitch. I came in doing the same thing. I know how to use my movement."
There is little disputing the results. Ramos has been Miami's most consistent setup reliever, reflected by his 0.75 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. He also leads the team in appearances with 14.
Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Ramos projects to lead the club in appearances when the season is over.
The Marlins are looking to solidify the eighth inning, the one in which they've allowed a team-most 20 runs (18 earned). Ramos, Mike Dunn and Carlos Marmol are the primary candidates for the eighth inning in close games.
A closely-knit unit, the bullpen is confident it will make strides as the season progresses.
"We're holding each other accountable," Ramos said. "I think that's the biggest thing. We're going out there and we're seeing what we're doing wrong. We're kind of going up to the guy the next day and saying, 'Maybe you should have done this or this.' We're using everybody to get better. Not criticizing, just holding people accountable. I think that's a big part of it."