Nolasco’s Sinker Has Led To Unexpected Opening Day Start

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Updated: April 3, 2017

Ricky Nolasco may not be the Opening Day starter everyone had in mind. However, his overall consistency and greater usage of his sinker better validate the decision.

At the beginning of Spring Training, no one necessarily thought that Ricky Nolasco would be pitching today for the Angels. It does seem odd because he not a big name per se. Let alone that component, most surmised that it would be Garrett Richards or Matt Shoemaker stepping onto the mound today. Better yet, literally everyone who knows baseball thought for sure it would be one of those two.

Part of what led to Scioscia’s decision to pencil in Nolasco was the fact that he was experiencing no immediate health issues going into the spring. The same is true as of now as well. On the other hand, the same tune cannot be played when Richards and the Shoe are given a glimpse.

Additionally, Nolasco had been an Opening Day starter in the past. It is therefore fair to conclude that the right-hander may have been selected above the others due to the greater level of experience. Even though it is merely one game, there is a lot of adrenaline going into games like this and Scioscia may have thought incipiently that Nolasco would better handle the pressure.

It is also critical to bear in mind how well has pitched for the team in general since the Hector Santiago swap last summer. He has really revitalized his career during his short stay in Anaheim. The ERA he has accrued in Anaheim thus far is far lower than it had been. The difference is perhaps attributable to a change he made once he came to Orange County.

Nolasco believes that an elevated dependence on his sinker ball has led to better success. Reports from Maria Guardado suggest that the modification was injected originally by pitching coach Charles Nagy. The suggestion has worked in a big way for the pitcher. Nolasco recently reflected on how well things have gone since Nagy recommended the tweak in his overall routine.

“‘It’s something they wanted me to do when I got here, and it paid off obviously,’ Nolasco said earlier this spring. ‘It’s an adjustment I made and will continue to make and getting better.’”

Since the results carried their way into spring, it made the decision easier for the Angels’ skipper. It will be Ricky’s fourth Opening Day of his career. Nolasco expressed his gratitude to the media a few days ago when he first discovered the news.

“‘It’s a great honor, it means a lot,’ Nolasco said Thursday. ‘I’m going to do everything I can to try to come home with a win.’”

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