clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ricky Nolasco: A tale of two years

New, comments

Nolasco has now started 11 games in 2017 - the same number of games he started for the Angels in 2016

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nolasco was pretty good for the Angels in 2016 after a pretty bad start with the Twins. He has pitched exactly the same number of games (11) in 2017 as he did for the Angels last year. So how do the two years compare? I’m pretty sure most of you know the answer, but let’s take a deeper dive.

Ricky Nolasco (Angels) Stats

Year Age W L ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP
Year Age W L ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP
2016 33 4 6 3.21 11 73 63 26 8 15 51 3.87 1.068
2017 34 2 5 4.48 11 60.1 65 30 16 18 53 5.61 1.376

The first thing you will see is that over 11 games, Nolasco has pitched 13 fewer innings. He was averaging 6.6 innings per start last year with the Angels and only 5.5 innings per start this year. He is giving up homeruns at TWICE the rate as he was last year.

Surprisingly, he’s striking out more batters to the tune of 7.9 per 9 innings compared to his 6.3 per 9 rate last year and 7.2 rate over the length of his career. He’s also walking more and giving up almost 2 hits more per 9 innings. So what gives?

Nolasco’s pitch usage is roughly the same as it was last year. The most notable change is perhaps that he is using his splitter at a higher rate - 10.3% compared to 7.5% in 2016. His curveball usage is also down about 3%. However, he gets a high whiff rate off that splitter - higher than with any other pitch.

What about velocity? The V-word. The word that has ended (probably) Jered Weaver’s career? Well, Nolasco’s fastball is still hitting 91 MPH. Last year it was in the 90-91 MPH range so not much has changed there.

Swing Rates

Season Team O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% Pace
Season Team O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% Pace
2016 2 Teams 32.8 % 60.9 % 46.2 % 60.5 % 91.6 % 80.0 % 47.7 % 22
2017 Angels 26.2 % 66.3 % 44.5 % 54.9 % 85.9 % 76.0 % 45.6 % 23.2

Overall contact against Nolasco is actually DOWN 4% from 2016. However, batters are swinging at pitched out of the zone at a signicant 6.6% less rate and they are swinging at pitched in the zone at an increase of 6.6%. Less chases, more swings in the zone. Swings in the zone are more likely to create harder/better hit balls.

Contact Results

Season Team GB/FB LD% GB% FB% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
Season Team GB/FB LD% GB% FB% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
2016 2 Teams 1.13 18.8 % 43.1 % 38.1 % 42.0 % 37.8 % 20.2 % 14.4 % 51.4 % 34.1 %
2017 Angels 0.8 19.0 % 35.9 % 45.1 % 47.3 % 30.9 % 21.8 % 14.9 % 47.3 % 37.8 %

So this is what happens when Nolasco gives up contact in 2017. His ground ball rate is way down (nearly 8%) and his fly ball rate is up 7%. The pull rate is up as well. Looking at the last bit, hard hit balls are up almost 4% from last year while softly hit balls are about the same and medium are down 4%.

In short? Nolasco isn’t fooling many hitters this year. They aren’t swinging as much out of the zone and they are crushing him in the zone when they do make contact. They are many factors that go into that including pitch selection, placement in the zone, etc. Perhaps he needs to throw fewer fastballs and more splitters? After all, that worked for Shoemaker and Nolasco’s fastball whiff rate is much lower than his splitter or his slider. It’s his fastball that usually gets him into trouble. Check out the below chart on slugging % from last year to this year by pitch:

Brooks Baseball

We can look at this data 20 different ways, but the short of it is that Nolasco & Nagy have some work to do.