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Ricky Nolasco: Quiet Hero

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Despite the struggles from multiple parts of the Twins, Ricky Nolasco has quietly been a solid performer this season.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

This season certainly has been a frustrating one for Twins players and fans alike. We knew there would be plenty of strikeouts, but not this many. The bullpen was going to be a bit rough around the edges, but blowing this many leads?

Amongst it all, though, has been an unlikely positive contributor this season: Ricky Nolasco. Through four starts, he's averaged just under 7 innings per start, he has a stellar 3.25 ERA, and he even helped in other ways by eating up 7 1/3 innings yesterday to help out a beleaguered bullpen. His success has been thanks to a miniscule 0.98 BB/9 rate which is roughly half of his career rate, and he also owns a tidy .214 batting average against this season.

Normally a pitcher that saw his ERA routinely underperform his peripheral stats, Nolasco is instead meeting them this year. His struggles usually were due to some bad luck with stranding runners on base and a proclivity to give up plenty of hits, but this season he has watched both of those numbers improve. Thus far, this season's 72.1% strand rate is not that far off from the major league average of 73.4%. However, the batting average has been aided by a .250 BABIP, significantly lower than the major league average and what Nolasco has typically allowed in his career. So, it's a shame but that is a number to keep an eye on if Nolasco starts to struggle in the future.

Regardless, what he has done thus far has been a welcome surprise from a guy that has yet to positively contribute after signing his 4-year contract several years ago. If he can keep his walk rate down, that would help combat the extra baserunners from his BABIP returning back to its normal level and we could see Nolasco remain an anchor in the battered rotation for the rest of the season.