Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Free Agent Pitcher Juan Nicasio
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates made a move to bolster their bullpen on Thursday, signing free agent pitcher Juan Nicasio to a 1 year, $3 million contract. Nicasio spent 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers after spending the previous four seasons with the Colorado Rockies.
Throughout his career, Nicasio has struggled with command and saw the problem reach it’s peak in 2015 as he posted a career high in walks, with roughly 5 per nine innings. The reason he can get away with that many walks is because he strikes out so many batters, 10 per nine innings in 2015. Combined with the fact that he never gives up home runs – just one in 52.1 innings last season – it’s easy to see the potential there if he can just find the strike zone.
In fact, 29 of the 52 home runs he’s allowed in his career came at Coors Field so a chance to pitch in PNC Park and, like Jon Niese, working with Ray Searage should maximize his potential.
Nicasio comes at a very cheap rate for someone could end up playing a crucial role in the bullpen. His average fastball velocity reached a career high as well last season, at 95 MPH. There’s a good chance the Pirates can pull a bit more velocity out of him and his ability to keep the ball in the stadium can’t be ignored in clutch situations.
The fact that he set career highs in velocity and walks last season tells me that Nicasio was trying to throw hard, rather than locate his pitches. I don’t think Nicasio will be the closer or even the set-up man but if he can figure out how to maximize his velocity without losing any command, he will be a very valuable signing.