Rickey Nolasco opening day starter and he deserves it
When Nolasco was announced yesterday as the Angel opening day pitcher it seemed to be met with a touch of ridicule.
Maybe we should look back at the summer of 2016 and see who made the better decision. The Dodger front office or the Angel front office?
The Dodgers dipped into the deep farm system and traded not one, not two, but three top 20 prospects for Rich Hill and the zero in Right Field.
The Angels traded a nobody and Hector Santiago for Nolasco. Nolasco didn’t come with a blister and made every start the Angels asked him to. Much like Rich Hill, he started out rocky but at least he did it on the mound. Nolasco would end the season with a flourish and will enter 2017 with a 21 innings scoreless streak. Not even included in that was an actual shutout on August 31st. Imagine that, a pitcher getting 27 outs without giving up an earned run. Has something changed for Rickey Nolasco? He says his success at the end of the year with the Angels was because he changed his pitch selection.
Nolasco attributes his success with the Angels last season (3.21 ERA) to leaning on his two-seam fastball. Two-seamers usually sacrifice a mile or two per hour in velocity in exchange for added movement.
Those who ridicule Nolasco because of his mediocre history but pant about Rich Hill seem to be ignoring the glorious history of Rich Hill. If one pitcher can change his spots, why can’t two pitchers? Hill became successful when he learned to use his curve since that was his most effective pitch, but even a successful renaissance like Hill comes with a caveat. That caveat is durability and until Hill proves at age 37 he can make even 20 starts in a season he’s just as big a question mark for me as Rickey Nolasco.
For me the odds are just as high that Nolasco is the same Nolasco as he’s always been, and the same holds true for Rich Hill. Both have a lot to prove in 2017 but at least one of them has been pitching every year in the major leagues since he showed up and didn’t spend most of his career bouncing around from hill to hill.