Monday, July 7, 2014

The good, the bad and the Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco might be the
worst starter in the American
League this season.
It seemed pretty obvious Sunday from Ron Gardenhire's postgame comments that Ricky Nolasco is coming out of the starting rotation.

This can't be much of a surprise to anybody. Nolasco's ERA, after surrendering six runs in two innings Sunday, is now an ugly 5.90, and he leads the league in hits allowed and runs allowed.

The Twins have made a heavy investment in him -- four years, $49 million -- and it is not paying off.

The manager couched a bullpen assignment in terms of something that will be discussed, and that how most of the beat writers were putting it in their tweets. But I agree with LaVelle Neal, who has covered the Twins since before Gardy became manager (and, I dare say, longer than all the rest of them put together:

So why not just say he's pulling Nolasco? Probably because there are discussions to be had -- not about if to do it, but how. Gardenhire would want to talk to Nolasco about it before telling reporters. He'd likely want to talk with Terry Ryan, and certainly with pitching coach Rick Anderson, about rotation alternatives. Shift Deduno to the rotation? OK, how does that affect the bullpen, especially after a pair of two-inning starts this weekend? Do the Twins need another arm?

Gardenhire denied Sunday that there are any physical issues with Nolasco, but I'm not completely buying that. Dan Gladden was talking on the radio about Nolasco's fastball velocity being down. Ron Darling and Cal Ripken, calling the game on TBS, speculated that Nolasco is injured based on the paucity of breaking balls.

Remember, as I wrote last winter after the Twins signed Nolasco, he doesn't throw his fastball nearly as often as most major league starters. If he's now relying heavily on the fastball -- and the fastball is of lower velocity than usual -- it does suggest that something is wrong physically.


OK, on to the good news.

*Byron Buxton played Sunday for the Fort Myers Miracle, going 0-for-2 and making, according to the Miracle's radio announcer's Twitter feed, a spectacular catch. He was only in the game for three innings, which was the plan.

* Kurt Suzuki and Glen Perkins were named to the American League All-Star team. Former Twin Carlos Gomez will start for the National League, and ex-Twin reliever and Minnesota native Pat Neshek, having a huge year with St. Louis, was named to the pitching staff.

* Justin Morneau is one of the "Final Five" up for a online fan vote between now and Thursday. Details at I normally don't care too much about such things, but I would love to hear the Target Field reaction to Morneau coming to the plate in the All-Star Game.

* J.O. Berrios, who has dominated the high A Florida State League, has been promoted to Double A New Britain. Berrios is to pitch for the World Team in the Futures Game at Target Field on July 11.


File this under the "bad": Neal also tweeted this Sunday:


1 comment:

  1. Another Rick Anderson knock, Twins coaching staff knock, this time from Vance Worley.


    After the 2012 season, his second full year in the Phillies' rotation, Worley had bone chips removed from his pitching elbow. Worley was healthy when he returned, but his mechanics were not: He said he was "cheating," using his shoulder more.

    "When I went over to the Twins, that was something they never noticed," Worley said. "I was flying open, and then you can see everything out of my hand. I changed the mechanics; the next thing I know, I'm in Triple A."

    Within the span of 5 days this March, Worley was removed from the Minnesota Twins' 40-man roster and traded to the Pirates for cash. After working as a reliever in late in his last spring with the Twins, Worley was moved back to a starting role while working with the Pirates in extended spring training.

    Pirates pitching guru Jeff Benedict, a special assistant to the general manager, who interviewed for the Phillies' pitching coaching job this spring, was the first to uncover Worley's faulty mechanics while the two studied video.

    "You're still throwing like you're hurt," Benedict told Worley.

    So Worley made a change. And although it's been only four starts, Worley is beginning to resemble the pitcher who went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA in 25 games with the Phillies in 2011.

    "That's all it was," Worley said of the mechanical fix. "I still have all the turn [in my delivery]. Everything's there. It was just this vs. that. I'm just glad that they believed in me and knew who I was and what I was capable of."