A lot of Angels fans were pretty upset when Billy Eppler traded away Hector Santiago and a minor leaguer for Ricky "Fiasco" Nolasco and another minor leaguer. In reality, Eppler was hedging his bets on that that other minor leaguer - Alex Meyer, and they he would turn into a solid #4 or #5 starter. Heck, maybe even a #3 starter since he was one a top rated pitching prospect in MLB. The verdict is still out on Meyer, though he had a promising start his last time out. He needs to improve on the in-game mental aspect and he still has some control issues. But all that aside, what about that Ricky Nolasco?
First, Hector Santiago had a pretty up and down year. In the end he had a 4.25 ERA for the Angels with a 1.33 WHIP and a surprising 10 and 4 record. He was also on place to have a record year in homeruns allowed, walks and ERA. Since moving to the Twins, he's had a pretty rough time. In 9 games he has a 6.20 ERA, has allowed 10 homeruns, and has a 1.520 WHIP with a 2 and 5 record. Was it just a bad environment change for him or a sign of what would have happened had he stayed in Anaheim?
For his part, Ricky Nolasco had a not so great 5.13 ERA with the Twins and a 1.35 WHIP. Comparable in WHIP but a full point higher in ERA than Hector Santiago. It appeared we were getting a downgrade, but many of us didn't care because of the Meyer aspect of this trade.
Since joining the Angels, Nolasco has only thrown less than 6 innings one time (it was 5.1 against the Mariners), 6 of his 10 starts have been quality, and he's pitched a complete game shutout. His ERA as an Angel is only 3.60 and his WHIP is down to 1.092. He sure has looked like a different man since making the move to Anaheim. Last night he even pitched the Angels to their first win agains the Astros in their last 12 games by throwing 7 innings of shutout ball.
One of the biggest questions will be if he can keep up this kind of performance next year. The Angels were set to lose Santiago (if they didn't go to arbitration), but they have Nolasco through the end of 2017. Not to mention, we have Alex Meyer as well.
Time will tell, but Eppler may have done one heck of a fleecing of the Twins who dumped Nolasco presumably to shed money next year (would be surprised if they resign Santiago). Somehow, Ricky Nolasco has thrust himself into a prime role with the Angels and now that Shoemaker is out as well, he very well may by the best pitcher we have/had in September and could help round out a competitive 2017 rotation.