FB365 Man-crush, Ricky Nolasco, is off to a hot start in 2011. Aside from allowing five runs in five innings to the Braves, he hasn’t allowed over two runs in any other of his starts. His current 3.00 ERA is a pretty site to see and his 18/2 K/BB ratio is even prettier. However, some of his past issues have followed him into 2011.
In his 27 innings, Nolasco has allowed four home runs (1.33 HR/9). Last season, Nolasco posted a 1.32 HR/9 rate and his career HR/9 rate is 1.23. While his approach keeps hitters off base via the walk, it also leads to a few too many pitches that end up over the heart of the plate. Based on early pitch f/x data, we can see that Nolasco had indeed left his four-seam fastball over the plate a bit too much. However, both his slider and changeup have been located much better and Nolasco is getting plenty of swings and misses on both pitches (19.2 percent on the slider and 14.7 percent on the changeup).
As much as it pains me to say it, if Nolasco continues to leave the ball over the heart of the plate he’s going to continue to be hurt by the home run ball. That doesn’t mean that he can’t post a sub 4.00 ERA with plenty of strikeouts and a decent WHIP, but I fear that a huge breakout might still be wishful thinking.
Don’t worry though, I’ll never stop believing in Hot Nolasco Sauce.