Juan Nicasio won’t survive as a starter. He is far too … normal. He has some positive things in his repertoire. Things that will keep him getting chances, such as fastball command and the ability to throw strikes. But those are not enough to solidify a rotation spot with a team for more than a year or two.
Last night, he lasted six innings and actually provided a quality start for the Colorado Rockies. However, if you watched the game intently, you would share the same concerns I have. The main question being, does he have any other pitch besides a fastball?
Nicasio’s pitch breakdown last night was 75 fastballs, 15 sliders and four change ups. That has been about an average outing for Nicasio this year and when you watch him you can see why. His fastball is an above average pitch. It sits low to mid 90’s and he can command it to both sides of the plate. But his two off-speed pitches are both below average offerings. The slider he can throw for a strike but it has minimal break. His change up is not much better and he doesn’t locate it very well.
Nicasio has had problems lasting through the 6th inning in games this year. He has no problem getting ahead of hitters, but he can’t put them away once he gets ahead. Hitters will foul off his breaking pitches and wait for the fastball. They also will see the fastball so many times in their first and second at bats against him that by their third at bat they have him timed pretty well and knock him out of the game.
I see Nicasio profiling more in long relief, a spot the Rockies have really struggled this year. In this role, he likely won’t face a lineup more than one time through which will allow his fastball to be effective and he won’t need his secondary pitches as much.
If he wants to stick in a rotation someday, he needs to develop a breaking ball that can actually get swings and misses. Until then, I suggest the Rockies move him to the bullpen.