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All-Time Top 20 Marlins: #20 Ricky Nolasco

81 wins and 1001 strikeouts has Ricky Nolasco on top of Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves

Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, we counted down the top 100 Marlins, ranked from number 100 through 21. Starting now, and continuing into the season (especially on scheduled off-days), we’ll count down the final 20. Today’s Marlin, Carlos Enrique Nolasco, earned a total of 10.5 WAR while with the team, ranking him 19th. He finished 20th in our fan poll (now closed) that is ordering the final 20 in the countdown.

Nolasco, a 6’2”, 235 lb. right-handed pitcher from Corona, California, was born on December 13th, 1982. The Chicago Cubs drafted him out of Rialto High School in the fourth round of the 2001 MLB amateur draft, with the 108th overall selection. He is by-far the gem of that round, with the only other notable players selected were pitcher Dave Bush (3.5 career WAR) and shortstop Josh Barfield (2.6 WAR).

Nolasco toiled through the Cubbies’ minor league system for five seasons, making it to the edge of the majors when they traded him with Sergio Mitre and Renyel Pinto to the Marlins for Juan Pierre.

Nolasco joined the Marlins with three years of control remaining on his rookie status, and made the team out of spring training as a long reliever. In that role, he posted a 2-1 record and struck out 14 in 17.1 innings, allowing an opposing batting average of .277, an opposing ERA of 4.15, and a 1.385 WHIP through May 12th. On May 17th he joined the rotation, earning no decision in a 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He struck out two over 3.2 innings, allowing five hits, three walks, and two unearned runs.

Over the course of that 2006 campaign, Nolasco notched a few memorable games. On June 3rd, he held the Rockies scoreless for eight innings, striking out seven and earning 90% of a shutout in a 13-0 win over Colorado. On July 22nd, he limited the Pirates to four hits over 7.1 scoreless frames, whiffing seven batters in a 5-0 victory against Pittsburgh. In his next start, six days later, he held the Phillies to a single over 7.1 innings of a 4.1 victory versus Philadelphia.

In total, Nolasco went 11-11 in his rookie campaign, with a 4.82 ERA, a 1.414 WHIP, and 99 strikeouts in 140.0 innings pitched. After a slow start in 2007 would see him go 1-2 over five appearances, with a 5.48 ERA, a 1.631 WHIP, and just 11 K’s in 21.1 innings, the Marlins relegated him to the minor leagues, where he would hone his craft for the duration of the season.

2008 would dawn on a reinvigorated Nolasco, who responded with an 1.102 WHIP, a 3.52 ERA, a 15-8 record, and 186 strikeouts in 212.1 innings over 32 starts. The next most successful starter in terms of wins was Scott Olsen, with an 8-11 record.

Nolasco did not start out 2008 in the rotation, instead joining after allowing just four baserunners over 5.2 innings spanning two appearances through the first six games of the season. He started Florida’s 10th game of the year, earning a victory despite allowing six runs in five innings, allowing seven hits and whiffing only two batters in a 10-6 win against the Houston Astros. He went on to strike out at least 10 batters on five occasions through the season.

On May 21st, Nolasco allowed just one run on three hits and struck out seven in a 3-1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. On June 15th, he finished one out away from a complete game, going 8.2 innings and whiffing 12 Rays in a 9-3 victory over Tampa Bay. 12 days later, he struck out nine more D-Backs over eight frames of a 3-1 Marlins win. On July 2nd, he struck out eight in seven innings, allowing three hits in a 4-2 win against the Washington Nationals. Five days later, he gave up one run on five hits and struck out seven over eight innings as the Marlins topped the San Diego Padres by a 3-1 final count. August would be even better

On August 2nd, Nolasco K’d 13 Rockies versus just four hits and no walks in eight innings for a 5-3 win at home. On August 19th, he tossed a two-hit masterpiece, allowing a walk and striking out 11 batters in a 6-0 win over the San Francisco Giants. It was his first career complete game. In his next start, he struck out 10 and allowed three hits in 7.1 innings to defeat Arizona, 5-2.

2009 would see Nolasco strike out over a batter per inning for the first (and thus far only) time in his career, getting 195 to miss in 185.0 innings, accruing a 13-9 record over 31 starts, with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.254 WHIP. The hard-luck pitcher had a then-career-best 3.35 FIP, indicating his inflated ERA was at least partially due to substandard fielding on the part of the Marlins. Nolasco was clearly the number two rotation starter behind Josh Johnson, and a mile ahead of anyone else in the stable, although he was the opening day number one.

On July 5th, Nolasco threw eight shutout three-hit innings, striking out a dozen Bucs in a 5-0 win against Pittsburgh. July 22nd would see him whiff 10 in just 6.1 innings, giving up two hits and earning a 5-0 win over the Padres. He went the distance on August 18th, striking out 10 and giving up three hits (and no walks) to defeat the Astros, 6-2. In his last start of the season, on September 30th, he struck out a career-high and then Marlins-record 16 batters in 7.2 innings allowing two unearned runs on four hits in a 5-4 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Nolasco posted a 14-9 record for the 80-82 Marlins in 2010, with a 4.51 ERA, a 1.281 WHIP a 3.86 FIP, and 147 K’s over 157.2 innings spanning 26 starts. His 14 wins led the club, although he was regarded as the number two starter. He only struck out double-digit batters once, on the fourth of July, when he whiffed 11 in seven frames of a 3-2 win over Atlanta.

Nolasco started 2011 as Miami’s number two starter, and responded with a 10-12 record, a 4.67 ERA, a 3.53 FIP, a 1.398 WHIP, and 148 strikeouts in 206.0 innings. On April 20th, he struck out eight over seven innings, allowing four hits and zero runs in a 6-0 triumph over the Pirates. He struck out 11 in seven six-hit innings on May 6th, earning no decision in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals. On June 29th, he pitched his second career shutout, giving up five hits in a 3-0, interleague win against the Oakland Athletics. He struck out eight in another complete game win on July 9th, defeating Houston by a 6-1 final count.

Florida became Miami in 2012, but Nolasco remained with the Marlins as their number three starter (behind Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle). Nolasco earned a 12-13 record over 31 starts for the Marlins that season, striking out 125 in 191.0 innings, with a 4.48 ERA, a 3.88 FIP, and a 1.366 WHIP. After starting out the 2013 campaign with a 5-8 record over 18 starts, with a 3.85 ERA and a 1.220 WHIP, the Marlins traded Nolasco with cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Angel Sanchez, Steve Ames, and Josh Wall.

Nolasco went 8-3 for the Dodgers in 15 starts through the remainder of 2013, with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.195 WHIP, along with 75 K’s in 87.0 innings pitched. He later appeared for the Minnesota Twins for two and a half seasons (56 starts, 15-22, 5.44 ERA, 1.474 WHIP, 243 K’s in 321.0 innings) before finishing last season with the Los Angeles Angels (11 starts, 4-6, 1.068 WHIP, 51 whiffs in 73.0 innings).

Keep a browser open to Fish Stripes for all breaking Marlins’ news, and keep your eyes peeled for number 19 on the list, a stablemate of Nolasco for several seasons with the Fish.