John Buck's Big Hit
As a Miami Marlins fan, it is hard to remember a time when John Buck was good. He was OK in 2011, and in 2012 his season collapsed right at the onset. His 2012 season was so bad in terms of hitting that Marlins fans would rather forget that he ever existed before Rob Brantly came along. Were it not for a hot streak near the tail end of the season while primarily facing lefties, Buck may not have even reached his .192/.297/.347 line (.284 wOBA).
Yet Buck was not as bad as most of us envisioned; after all, major league catchers are not supposed to be great hitters, and Buck quietly had one of the best defensive seasons of his career. So when he was thrown into the Toronto Blue Jays trade and eventually traded again to the New York Mets, it seemed like he found a nice role for himself as a stopgap starter waiting in line for a top prospect (Travis D'Arnaud) to take over the position.
But as Buck showed in yesterday's game, he may not be ready to relinquish his spot. Buck drove in four runs against his former Marlins team, including two sacrifice flies and an opportune two-run double that erased the Marlins' 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Yet another good day at the plate leaves Buck with a .421/.409/.789 slash line (.479 wOBA), which is absurd and ready to fall back down to earth at any minute. But even seeing that next to Buck's name has to leave Marlins fans with a little bit of disgust in their mouths.
Ricky Nolasco did not have the strikeouts or the home runs he displayed in his first start of the season. Nolasco's fastball was not at its best, as he averaged just under 90 mph on each throw. On the whole, all of his pitches looked a little slower than usual, and that might have helped to contribute to his struggles on the mound.
Nolasco whiffed just three batters, and that may in part be because he only induced three swings and misses yesterday. The Marlins cannot be happy with that performance after Nolasco got 11 whiffs in 86 pitches in the last game. Particularly cringe-inducing was his ineffective slider, as it got no swings and misses and was only thrown for four strikes out 14 total pitches.
Nolasco was working on decent rest thanks to the Tuesday off-day, but he was sort of off rotation given that this should have been the fifth starter's spot. It is unlikely this had much to do with his lack of effectiveness, but the decreased fastball velocity is very concerning. As we discussed last week, Nolasco already has fastball issues and probably cannot afford another downgrade on that pitch.