Fernando Nieve is another interesting, but well used arm accumulated by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He could surprise some Pirates fans this season for several reasons. None of which would make us jump on a soapbox, but it’s something to consider when simply looking at his numbers from 2010.
1. In 2010 Nieve appeared in 28 games before the month of June, throwing 470 pitches (remember when Evan Meek appeared in 24 games over that time span? Meek threw 477 pitches and we were screaming that his arm was going to fall off?)
2. NY Mets fans argue that manager Manuel simply wore out the “rubber arm” of Nieve. When one takes a close look at the numbers, it certainly seems logical.
3. Manuel needed someone he could count on and he chose Nieve. We know it sucks for Mets fans and for Nieve that the now fired manager turned Nieve into a workhorse because he was cheap. But consider this, isn’t it reassuring to think the Pirates took a flier on a pitcher that another manager so heavily relied on early in 2010?
4. Check this out–Nieve was on the roster for 95 games and made appearances in 40 of those games. But he didn’t pitch in the majors after July 21. He was already used up.
5. Nieve had Tommy John in 2007. In 2008, Nieve threw fastballs 72% of the time, his slider 19%. Looking at 2010, the fastball percentage was down to 66 and the slider was 13% as he threw more curveballs and changeups. He should be fully recovered from Tommy John and his work in winter ball reaffirms the overuse didn’t do further damage last season.
6. His fastball used to be in the high 90’s, but now it still sits in the 92-94 range. The righty has an almost slurvy slider too, but his change needs to be consistent for him to be effective. His curve could use some work also as it appears to be rather looping. If he can’t get a pitch to compliment his fastball, this post could look hilarious in a few months. But we don’t think it will, Nieve has some ability.
7. In 28.2 innings against right handed batters, Nieve struck out 28 of them. One would believe that Nieve began to rely on his fastball religiously in some of these relief situations.
8. What else do we have to look at now that the Winter Meetings are over? Re-runs of Clint Hurdle telling us how proud he is to be a Bucco?
9. In Winter Ball, Nieve has pitched 19.2 innings and struck out 14 while walking three. Nieve has allowed seven earned runs, a homer and opponents are hitting .293 off the right hander.
10. Take a look at the amount of overuse for yourself. Most Pirates fans are going to be skeptical of the Nieve acquistion as another project or reject, but there could be something here.
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