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With his 31st birthday coming up in December, Ricky Nolasco is already sitting in the 90-91 mph range with both his four-seamer and his sinker. Since he's been hanging steady in that range for the last couple seasons, it's fair to expect him to hang on. Nolasco also has a slider, curveball and a splitter, with his slider rating as the best of the bunch. It's not an overpowering arsenal, but the depth of it is worth some consideration.
Nolasco owns a career walk percentage of 5.5. His walk percentage in 2013 was, naturally, 5.5. This doesn't mean he was pounding the strike zone, however, as both his first-pitch strike percentage and zone percentage took a tumble. What he was doing was more like pitching around the zone. While it worked for him in 2013, it won't work as well once the scouting report gets out and Nolasco's stuff becomes a little less crisp.
Nolasco's strategy of toying with the strike zone in 2013 did pay off in more swings and misses on pitches out of the zone, which, in turn, helped him rescue his strikeouts from a sharp decline. He's still a guy who can be hit hard, however, and a one-year spike in strikeouts is hard to trust.
Nolasco's ability to eat innings has never really wavered over the years, as he's been good for six innings per start like clockwork ever since 2008. At the same time, he's never averaged more than 100 pitches per start in a season. Given that and what we're about to discuss next, it's not asking a lot for Nolasco to maintain his status as a solid workhorse in the future.
Nolasco had some serious trouble with his elbow back in 2007, but he managed to avoid surgery. The only real injury scare he's had since then involved knee surgery in 2010. I can't give him a perfect score here, given what we know about the ability of older pitchers to stay healthy, but Nolasco is definitely in good shape for a guy his age.
Nolasco is nothing special as a pitcher now, and he's not going to be anything particularly special in the future, but he's in good health and has what he needs to continue to eat innings, and that's an invaluable skill.
A score like this casts Nolasco close to a 3-WAR player worthy of close to $15 million annually. He won't actually get that much in free agency, so he could prove to be a solid bargain buy.