Juan Nicasio’s Start Was No Fluke

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Juan Nicasio was the story of Spring Training this year for the Pirates. In 15 innings pitched Nicasio did not allow a single run while striking out 24 batters, and this performance earned him a spot in the Pirate rotation. However, Spring Training results are totally meaningless and you never know how they will translate to the regular season.

Well, Nicasio picked up right where he left off in spring. Nicasio pitched six fabulous innings last night against the St. Louis Cardinals allowing just Juan (sorry, had to get Juan last pun in) run, a solo home run hit by Jeremy Hazelbaker, on two hits, zero walks, and 7 strikeouts in 6 innings pitched.

The most encouraging thing from Nicasio was not just the results, but his electric stuff. Nicasio hit as high as 98mph with his fastball last night, and it averaged 94.8mph for the evening. His slider was also filthy last night with its great movement and high 80s/low 90s velocity.

I also thought that in the sixth inning Nicasio did a great job of not getting rattled after allowing the home run to Hazelbaker. After Hazelbaker hit a home run to lead off the sixth, Nicasio easily could have gotten rattled and started to struggle like many young pitchers would do. Instead, he struck out the next two batters and then got a fly out to end the inning.

Nicasio also posted a solid 2.91 xFIP in last night’s game. Furthermore, zero walks was a great sign from Nicasio. Throughout his career Nicasio has always struggled with control, but if Ray Searage has fixed that then he’s got the potential to be a solid number three starter for the Pirates.

Last night’s start from Juan Nicasio was not a fluke. Nicasio is the real deal and will be a great boost to the Pirate rotation this season. Buckle up baby, the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be a fun and wild ride.