On draft day 2010, fantasy baseball owners will have shot to grab Ricky Nolasco at a deflated value after a rocky 2009 season filled with blowups and a demotion to the minors.
If you can look past the lofty ERA, you will find a ton of positive indicators from last season that point to 2010 being a bounce back season.
For starters, Nolasco posted a 4.43 K/BB rate, which was good for fifth best in the majors behind Zack Greinke (4.75). It was also the exact same K/BB rate he posted in 2008.
His 9.49 K/9 was good for 11th best in the majors, again just barely behind Greinke (9.50).
His 2.14 BB/9 was good for 19th best in the majors. Three spots higher than Josh Beckett (2.33).
Hitters swung at about one percent more of his pitches outside the strike zone in 2009 and made about one percent less contact on swings overall (78.2 percent).
His strike/ball rate was only .9 percent worse in 2009 from 2008.
On the flip side, or "unlucky side," Nolasco fell victim to a .336 BABIP against—well above league average and well above his career .311 BABIP against.
His strand rate, or left on base percentage, was 61 percent. That was about 11 percent below the league average, which was 71.9 percent.
These are all indicators that point to Nolasco bouncing back nicely. However, there are still issues to consider from 2009. His HR/9 is still above league average. Hitters also made better contact on pitches inside the strike zone.
From what I watched of Nolasco in 2009, he clearly was unable to locate his pitches like he did in 2008, meaning the fastballs he once painted on the corners were now catching the meat of the plate, and hitters were making him pay.
Still, Nolasco's fantasy numbers should look much better this season. He did make some nice adjustments last season after his demotion to the minors. His FIP for the entire season was 3.35, with an even better xFIP of 3.28.
After all the top names are gone and rounds 7-10 roll around, don't hesitate to select Ricky Nolasco. Despite a down 2009, he still has top 10 potential.