At a time when relief pitching is arguably the biggest concern for the Los Angeles Dodgers, any amount of help to patch up the bullpen situation is welcome. Just as welcome is any newcomer who will gladly raise his hand when his team needs it most.
I pitched better in relief,” said Nicasio. “I like it. I concentrate on just the fastball and slider and can be aggressive, because I know I don’t have to pitch six or seven innings or 100 pitches.”
The 28-year-old right-hander had a 6-6 record and 5.38 ERA last season with the Rockies, where he spent time as both a starting and relief pitcher. In his three prior Major League seasons, Nicasio was exclusively a starter.
Mattingly, who had a shortage of powerful arms in the bullpen last season, was enthusiastic about the possibility of Nicasio contributing as a long reliever this season:
He has a big arm,” said Mattingly. “His ‘pen numbers are really good. We think that’s the best spot for him. With power stuff, he could be a guy that emerges and find a niche. He could have a big year.”
Mattingly’s praise comes largely due to Nicasio’s surge after his demotion to the bullpen last season, where he had a 3.48 ERA with 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings, with batters hitting .227/.275/.400 against him in that role.
It was previously reported in Spring Training the Dodgers were preparing Nicasio for a role as a relief pitcher and Carlos Frias as a starter. While Nicasio and Mattingly envision a bullpen role, the pitcher’s previous experience should bode well in the even the Dodgers’ starting rotation is again decimated by injuries.
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