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A Look At Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco had some moments in his '06 rookie season (he was moved to the rotation in May).  For instance, Nolasco posted a 2.62 ERA in June of that year and managed to win 11 games on the season.  His 6.4 K/9 was OK, as was his 2.6 BB/9.  On the flip side, he was homer and hit-prone.  His 12.7% HR per flyball rate and .319 BABIP were partly to blame.

The Marlins talked about moving Nolasco into the closer role for '07, but injuries to Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson caused the Marlins to scratch that.  Nolasco was anointed the team's swingman heading into the season.  Then his elbow started barking, and he spent the rest of the season rehabbing it.  During his brief big league stint his fastball was down 1.5 mph from '06.

Nolasco's velocity returned in the Arizona Fall League, and he again began the year in a swingman role.  A week into the season he was moved to the rotation.  He scrapped his changeup for a splitter and a cut fastball, but three of his first five starts were lousy.  By May 9th, Nolasco had it figured out.  From that point forward:

3.07 ERA
1.06 WHIP

8.5 K/9
1.6 BB/9
1.06 HR/9
7.81 H/9

His 5.4 K/BB ratio is beautiful.  Nolasco is still HR-prone as a flyball pitcher, but not so much that it's a problem.  He's putting the ball exactly where he wants to.  His BABIP swung the other way, to .287 on the season.  The Marlins are at .302 as a team, so he can't sustain the low H/9.  Still, Nolasco's in the midst of a breakout season.  He was amazing in August, whiffing 51 in 43 innings while posting a 0.84 WHIP.  Nolasco racked up three double-digit strikeout games that month.

If you're wondering whether Nolasco is for real, he is.  Can he continue to stay healthy and post a sub-4.00 ERA in '09?  I believe so, but since he's a Marlin he won't be a major draft risk.  Think 10th round or later.  This year, Nolasco showed why monitoring the waiver wire is so important.  He posted an excellent June and backed it up with his peripherals.  That was the time to pick him up.

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