While Ricky Nolasco read the memo about how all the pitchers need to learn a changeup, he had other ideas .
The Pirates' telecast Tuesday night zoomed in on Ricky Nolasco's grip at one point. It clearly showed Nolasco's index and middle finger spread wide over the ball before he threw a pitch that plummeted as it reached the plate.
No doubt about it. Nolasco was throwing a split-finger fastball. He worked on the pitch during spring training and it turns out he throws a nice one.
"I always thought I would have a pretty good feel for it," Nolasco said. "With the split, I'm pretty dominant with these two fingers [index and middle]. I felt I could just throw it without trying to baby it like a regular circle change."
The split has replaced the changeup in Nolasco's arsenal.
Among the drawbacks is it's a tough pitch on the elbow. Nolasco spent most of last season sidelined with elbow inflammation and didn't experiment with it then, but he has no reservations about throwing it now.
"I'm 100 percent healthy," he said. "As long as I'm throwing it right, I'll be fine."
Adding a spliter to go with that curveball of his should prove to make him a very effective pitcher, as long as his arm doesn't fall off.
If Nolasco is going to use the split finger as his second out pitch, Treanor needs to keep catching him. It's early in the season and I don't have a real good read on Rabelo but the early indication is that Treanor is the better blocker of pitches down in dirt of the two. And if Nolasco is going to throw a spliter with any success, he needs to have confidence that his battery mate will keep it from going to the screen if he breaks one off a little early.
My major concern is that when Nolasco, who is still building arm strength, gets tired in the later innings (whatever later is for him) is that he won't abandon the spliter. But he did in Pittsburgh so maybe that isn't much of a concern.