Ricky Nolasco had……well, a quintessential 2014 Ricky Nolasco outing Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels. In six innings of work, he allowed six earned runs and 11 hits, raising his ERA to a pedestrian 5.74.
If you didn’t watch the game, you probably think Nolasco was just what he’s been for a large chunk of the season — bad. However, after the first few innings he settled down and pitched well. He gave the Minnesota Twins a chance to win the game as he left in the 7th with runners on the corners and none out. Matt Guerrier then entered the game, allowing two hits and runs, which were charged to Nolasco.
Nevertheless, the masses are extremely disappointed with his play this year, after he signed a lucrative four-year deal, worth $49 million in the offseason. In no way, shape, or form is he pitching like a $12 million-dollar arm, and many are ready to give up on him. But that would be foolish at this early juncture because, Nolasco, despite being overpaid, isn’t as mediocre as he’s been.
The right-hander’s .355 BABIP this season is unsustainable and a conspicuous aberration from his career .311 BABIP. This will likely deviate to his career norm over time, and as a result, Nolasco’s run prevention total will improve.
Further, his 4.54 FIP suggests he’s been better than he’s pitching. Historically, pitchers tend to perform closer to their FIP the next season, so obviously this is a positive sign for Nolasco.
Even though Joe Mauer is struggling, the Twins have shown flashes of excellence sporadically throughout the year. This has to be encouraging for a team anticipated to receive an influx of talented youngsters such as Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Trevor May as early as 2015.
Nolasco, along with Phil Hughes, can forge a solid veteran 1-2 punch for the foreseeable future. Having those guys atop the Twins’ staff can be beneficial to Meyer and May, who are projected to be a part of Minnesota’s rotation in the future, by taking pressure off them to not feel obligated to be the perennial top-of-the-rotation starter that early into their big-league careers.
The Twins have a bright future ahead of them, and they invested a lot for Nolasco to be a part of it. Despite his poor star, it’s evident he has the aptitude to succeed and will serve a purpose in the Twins’ future prosperity.