Ricky Nolasco Needs to Step Up

ricky nolasco - twins

Ricky Nolasco has been frustrating to watch in 2014, and so far he has not been what fans expected. Simply put, he’s been a disappointment through fourteen starts this season. The grim faced Nolasco signed a four year, $49 million contract this past offseason with the Minnesota Twins. The team took a chance wading into the free agent pool like they've never done before -- what they received in return isn’t going to suffice for this year or the three seasons that follow.

Ricky Nolasco has never pitched this poorly. He’s been a solid pitcher over his first eight years in baseball giving teams around 200 innings a year with an ERA from 3.80 to 4.50. Not great, but not the calamity he is now. Consider these numbers:

  • His 5.66 ERA is third worst among all MLB starting pitchers and the worst in the American League. (Kevin Correia is second worst, but he seems to have found himself a bit.)

  • His 1.56 WHIP (walks + hits per inning) is also the worst in the American League.

  • He’s giving up 1.39 HRs per nine innings pitched, again, the worst in the American League.

  • Over the last month hitters are batting a very healthy: .330/.370/.522 (BA/OBP/SLG) off Nolasco.

  • His ERA+ is 71. This means he’s pitched 29% worse than how an average starting pitcher would be expected to perform.

  • He’s given up the third most hits in baseball. (Only Verlander and David Price have given up more...what?)

  • Nolasco does have an MLB worst BABIP (batted ball in play) of .349. This indicates many batted balls are falling in for hits, which is a sign of some bad luck. This stat actually gives hope that a reversal of fortune may be in order for him.

ricky nolasco - 2014 Ricky Nolasco also needs to pitch deeper into games. He’s gotten to the 7th inning in just 3 of 14 starts. In addition, he needs to avoid giving leads away like he did against Detroit this past weekend. The Twins were down 2-0, then took a 3-2 lead. Nolasco took the mound the next inning and promptly gave up a tying run. That’s deflating, not what a $12 million a year pitcher does and it’s happened far too much this season. The Minnesota Twins need Ricky Nolasco to step up and help the Twins achieve a winning record this season -- this will really help them compete for a division title after that. In addition, some youthful arms are due to arrive at Target Field soon and a veteran pitcher they can emulate will be needed. Being a mentor should be on Nolasco’s to do list right after becoming a capable top of the rotation starter.   Photos via: BeGreen90  

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