No One On The Mariners Implodes Quite Like Juan Nicasio

You can’t win ’em all.  You certainly can’t win ’em all against the likes of the Astros.  I often talk about how we can’t have nice things, and sweeping the Astros is pretty much the nicest thing you can have (even if it’s just a 2-game series), so there was just no way.

And yet, there we were.  We scrimped and we saved and we scratched and we clawed against a guy who has owned our asses for years, Lance McCullers (including last night, he’s 6-2 with a sub-3 ERA in his career in 11 games), to get a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 7th.  Wade LeBlanc didn’t really have it (again, against one of the best teams in the league) and was pulled after 4 innings.  But, the vast majority of the bullpen was able to keep the Astros from scoring.

Except for Juan Nicasio, who came in to start the 7th inning and got exactly 0 outs while giving up 4 hits and 4 runs (3 earned) in 4 at bats.

It was all right there.  This is what the team was built around.  Get a lead heading into the 7th inning.  Then, for the final 9 outs, we go Nicasio-Colome-Diaz, bingo bango bongo.  The problem is, it doesn’t work very well if even one of those guys doesn’t have it.

Now, on the bright side, those guys HAVE had it for most of the season.  Nicasio had 8 consecutive scoreless appearances leading into last night.  In 30 appearances on the season, Nicasio has put up a zero in 20 of them.  Not elite, but pretty good.  Not, I don’t think, what the Mariners thought they were getting when they signed him to a 2-year, $17 million contract before the season (that’s a lot of money for a guy to only be effective 2/3 of the time), but that’s how it goes sometimes.  The M’s paid Scrabble $11 million over 2 years just to get left handers out and he couldn’t even do THAT; sometimes shit goes tits up and you just have to eat it.

The point is, Nicasio has flashed dominance this season, but he’s pretty fucking far from what he was even a season ago, when he had a sub-3 ERA and a 2.0 WAR (in 2018 he’s a plus-5 ERA and a -0.5 WAR).  Yeah, 2/3 of the time he’s putting up zeroes, but he’s got 3 blown saves and 3 losses so far and we’re not even halfway through the season.  Maybe he’s being over-used, but he’s also getting paid like a guy who’s supposed to appear in 70+ games.

And yeah, when he blows up, it’s pretty spectacular.  This is already the second time he’s given up 4 runs in less than an inning of work.  He has two other games where he’s given up 2 runs in an inning.  He’s had five games where he’s given up 3 or more hits in an inning or less.  I guess the good thing you can say is that he doesn’t walk guys (only 2 on the season in 28.2 innings of work) and he settled down on his homer problem (4 on the season, but only 1 after mid-April).  Nevertheless, he’s lobbing in some meatballs that are getting hit on the reg, and if he doesn’t find a way to miss more bats, it’s going to be difficult to trust him going forward.