It has been nearly a year since the LA Angels sent fan favorite Hector Santiago to the Minnesota Twins for Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco has been a disappointment this year, but is finally turning his season around for the Halos.
The LA Angels have not had the best starting rotation this year. One of the worst parts of the week was watching Ricky Nolasco trot out only to give up a couple long balls and take the loss. It seemed like he would never get out of the rut.
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Going into this week, Nolasco had a 5.23 ERA that he earned mostly due to his MLB-worst 23 home runs. With a 2-9 record and a .293 opposition batting average, Nolasco may have lost his spot in the rotation is Garrett Richards and/or Tyler Skaggs were healthy. However, after his two starts this week, Nolasco looks like the Angels’ ace.
Last season, Nolasco was a tale of two halves. From April-June, Nolasco had a 5.31 ERA (with 14 homers). From July through September, he owned a 3.56 ERA (with 12 long balls). It seems as if Nolasco is hitting the stride he hit around this time of year last season.
Nolasco started this week going against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Winners of ten straight, they were the hottest team in baseball. They also had hit a home run in 17 straight games. It seemed as if Nolasco was about to get knocked around and have an early exit. However, he went 6.1 strong innings while striking out five Dodgers and not allowing a single run.
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He led the Halos to a 4-0 shutout victory that day, and only got better against the Seattle Mariners in his Saturday start. With nine players boasting at least five long balls, Nolasco would face another tough battle against his worst enemy; the big fly.
However, Nolasco allowed only three hits. And none of them went for extra bases. He did not walk anyone either. He struck out seven batters, and pitched all nine innings on just 105 pitches. This was Nolasco’s fourth career complete game shutout, and the Angels’ first since Nolasco pitched one last August.
Nolasco entered the week with a 5.23 and was at risk of losing his rotation spot. He has now lowered that to 4.42. He has not allowed a run in 15.1 innings and is looking like an ace. With the Angels being so close to a Wild Card spot, Nolasco may be the key to pushing them over the top.