"If it's me against you, one time, I like my chances." - Dennis Eckersley, converted SP
Q. Nicasio is a converted SP. Is he more of a Ryan Franklin type who has found a versatile niche in 2-3 IP, or more of a guy who re-shaped his arsenal around his two best weapons?
A. Neither. He's always been a guy with two big hurkin' weapons, miscast as a starter. If you were stinging over the loss of Thyago Vieira, here's your ointment. Or not.
Here, check out this excellent Fangraphs .gif-out on Nicasio's 2017. It .gifs Nicasio as a 95-96 MPH guy who used to throw a "frisbee" slider hit hard by lefties, but who changed the SHAPE of his 2017 slider to a tight-spin drop.
A tight-spin drop at 88 MPH, that is. There are a few guys who throw 88+ MPH sliders. Their names are like Strasburg, DeGrom, Kershaw, Severino, stuff like that.
Q. Slap me silly. Shouldn't this guy be closing?
A. Right on order, here is your sabe article arguing just that.
Here are 5 pitches arguing approximately the same thing: a 97 fastball and an 88-91 slider, neither of which is especially precise, but hey. Throw two pitches and you're liable to get them right, on one level or other.
Q. Does the Mainframe see huge things for this guy?
A. No, not really. In his big 2017 year he racked up 9.0 strikeouts, 2.5 walks, 0.6 homers which is certainly better than Christian Bergman but: it's a predictable two pitches and it's kind of sloppy in the strike zone. It's kind of easy to imagine lefties or righties, either way really, barrelling in a bit. We're not talking about a trip to join Andrews Albers in Japan, but enough hesitation to hold up on the 2.05 ERA type encoronations.
The worst case is for him to set up against strongly RHB innings, which is fine. :: shrug :: the best case (from his POV) is indeed for Edwin Diaz to take up hockey and for Nicasio to save 37 of 45 for the local nine.
Q. Leaving us where.
A. Don't undersell this guy. He's heaving the ball in the general direction of the strike zone, but he is hitting that zone, with two radioactive pitches. Looks kinda wolf-packy from here.