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Why did Ricky Nolasco pitch in the Eighth?

Why in the world did Edwin Rodriguez let Ricky Nolasco pitch the eighth inning? It just doesn't make any sense. As you all know, Nolasco had a shortened spring training due to a thumb injury, so when the season started he was least stretched out of all the starters.

Ricky pitched 15 innings in spring training, and if you combine that with the 7 innings he pitched in his first start, that is a total of 22 innings, which is an acceptable amount of innings coming out of camp. Now, of course, innings thrown in real games are more stressful on the arm because of the amount of effort exerted. When a pitchers is getting ready for the season, well, he is just getting ready. During the baseball season, those innings matter and a pitcher increases his level of effort. But let's discount that for the moment and just say he had thrown 22 innings going into last night's contest.

Basically, last night was his first start of the season, inning-wise. In Josh Johnson's first start of the season he was limited to 92 pitches. (JJ threw 21 innings during the spring, in case you didn't know.) After seven innings Ricky had thrown 92 pitches. But instead of taking him out, Edwin sent him back out for the eighth with the Marlins holding a one run lead. Michael Bourn made it to third with one out. So the tying run is on third with one out and Nolasco is still throwing. This just became a high-stress situation. What it amounts to is Nolasco was allowed to throw 16 pitches in a high-stress environment. The extra effort it takes to pitch in those situations, especially when his arm is already tired, is a prescription for injury this early in the season. And Nolasco doesn't have the best history at staying healthy.

Had the game been played at mid-season, sure, send him out there. But this was basically his first prepared start of the season, and Edwin decided to play with fire.

If Nolasco has a rocky start or two in his next outings, or if he ends up with nagging injuries, you will know why. Of course, it is possible that nothing will come of Edwin letting him throw so many high-stress pitches when his arm had to be exhausted, and maybe the Marlins won't get burned allowing this to take place. But that is more risk than should be taken.

The Marlins have other relievers if they should wear out. Shoot, they have one in Triple-A that is arguably better than the ones they presently have on the roster. But the club does not have another Ricky Nolasco. Taking chances with Ricky was a bad decision, even if Edwin gets lucky and it works out.