Obviously, Juan Nicasio’s big league debut went remarkably well. Anyone that checked last night’s box score could tell you that. But, it was his approach that impressed me most. He was composed, mature, and surprisingly efficient.
In AA this year, Nicasio has been overwhelming hitters, striking out over ten per every nine innings. Coming into last night, I was a little concerned that he would try to blow it by everyone and lose control of the game. However, it was just the opposite. Nicasio was the definition of efficient. Instead of racking up strikeouts, he pitched to contact and let the Rockies’ solid defense make plays. Incredibly, he worked through seven innings on just eighty-eight pitches — roughly 65% were strikes.
Granted, it was just one start and it helped that the Cards were unfamiliar with him, but I’m allowing myself to get a little excited about Nicasio. His rise to the big leagues has been somewhat shocking. At the start of last year, he was a middle tier prospect in high A. Now, he is without a doubt the Rockies’ top pitching prospect. It’s within the realm of possibility that he’s in the big leagues for good. If he can continue to stay within himself like he did last night, his stuff will allow him to be competitive. And, if he can continue to develop his change-up — he threw several good ones against the Cardinals — he has a chance to be dominant.
With that said, we can’t expect him to throw seven innings without giving up an earned run every night. He pitched well, but he also had some luck on his side. His FIP for the night was 3.20. Still, if his production is even somewhat close to what it was last night, the Rox will have a fighting chance this year.
– Recently, Ty Wigginton said that “it’s just a matter of time” before he heats up. The Rockies keep running him out to third every night because they believe his numbers will improve. Anyone buying into this is kidding themselves. Currently, his stats are very close to what he’s done over the last couple of seasons. Here are a few third basemen that had a higher OPS than Wigginton last year: Casey Blake, Aramis Ramirez, Miguel Cairo, David Freese, Edwin Encarnacion, Jeff Baker, and Melvin Mora. Interestingly enough, the Rockies actually have two third basemen in Colorado Springs, Ian Stewart and Josh Fields, that had better OPS figures than Wigginton last year. To be fair, Fields only had fifty plate appearances, but you get my point. The Rox are foolish to be so patient with Wigginton. He hasn’t been a good player in sometime, and, at the age of 33, he’s declining. I’m not saying that they need to cut him, but he’s not the answer at third.
– I’m very pleased that EY Jr. finally got the call up. And, I think it’s great that he’s been in the lineup the last two games. However, what’s the point of calling him up if it means decreased playing time for Jonathan Herrera? Why take one of their most productive players off the field when he might actually be the solution to the third-base black hole? If they don’t try Herrera at third soon, I might lose it.
– Also, I have no problem with EY playing left, but I don’t see the logic in playing him in center when they have Cargo. Tracy’s reasoning for leaving Gonzalez in left doesn’t make much sense. When discussing this topic, Jim typically launches into a rigmarole about respect, as if it’s somehow disrespectful to ask Carlos to play multiple outfield positions. It’s not like they’re asking him to go catch. His defensive versatility is a serious asset. Last year, the guy played all three outfield positions almost equally and won a freaking Gold Glove. It’s ridiculous to limit him to left field. Tracy needs to make sure they are fielding their best outfield every night — even if it means disrespecting Carlos by moving him over to center.