Getting Ricky back on track

Sometimes a step backwards is all that is needed to move forward.

The Marlins are hoping that is the case with Ricky Nolasco, their Opening Day starter who was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after Friday’s 15-2 loss to the Rays.

In nine starts, Nolasco was 2-5 with a 9.07 ERA, and he gave up eight runs in two innings against the Rays before he was optioned.

Best case scenario is Nolasco makes two starts with the Zephyrs, and he’s right back with the Marlins. Pitching coach Mark Wiley said on Saturday that’s his hope, but he noted there is no timetable.

Technically, a player optioned has to spend 10 days in the Minor Leagues before getting called back up again. That would change if there is a disabled list situation.

Nolasco will make at least two starts for New Orleans, and the Marlins have a plan of things they want him to work on while he is regaining his form. A top priority is getting the right-hander to regain command of his fastball, along with a boost in his confidence.

“I think he was putting pressure on himself to do well,” Wiley said. “He was over-throwing pitches, and kind of losing a little bit of his mechanics.”

A year ago, when Nolasco was 15-8, he was one of the top command pitchers in the National League. He attacked hitters, and worked his array of off-speed and breaking pitches off a crisp fastball.

This year, he’s been hurt with runners in scoring position. In those situations, his ERA is 16.88.

Before sending him down, the Marlins worked on just about everything imaginable to get the right-hander right. Some days he did two sessions with Wiley. His delivery was tinkered with. At times he was lifting his leg too high, and other times his elbow was dropping too low.

“Pitching is kind of a funny thing,” Wiley said. “The difference in throwing really well and really bad could just be a rhythm issue. Where you’re not trying to do too much. You’re just making quality pitches.

 “If you look throughout the history of baseball, it’s all about confidence. Confidence, performing well, and doing what you’re supposed to do. Getting comfortable within yourself, and not trying do too much. Not trying to overcompensate and overanalyze things.”

— Joe Frisaro


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