What a brutal stop in Cincinnati. The Cubs "embarrassed" Mike Quade on Monday, leading to a team meeting. Futility won over, as the Reds scored seven unearned runs in another cruddy loss.
Now it's off to Miami to face the Marlins, who are playing pretty good baseball. The Cubs will face Ricky Nolasco and Christopher Volstad and then head to Fenway for a three game weekend against the Red Sox.
In other words, things aren't getting easier. And Ryan Dempster (ex-Marlin) and Casey Coleman (Floridian) are targets of irrational, geography-driven expectations.
Nolasco has good stuff, a whole array of pitches. You can call his cutter a slider, his slider a curve, and his curve a slow curve. He throws a splitter and a fastball, along with a sinker and may be some straight changes along the way. I'll close my eyes and pretend he takes something of his fastball and walk away slowly.
The "sliders" that cap off the "curveballs" aren't always in the mix, 2011 being a season of just two "sliders" to date.
Did I mention he'll drop down to a lower arm slot? Extra fun.
Nolasco profiles as a swing-and-miss guy with fly ball tendencies. 2011, however, has seen a pick-up in his ground balls rate.
100+ SCALE (proportion of league average)
As usual, Nolasco isn't walking many guys, but he's going out of the zone (IWZ) more often while fooling batters in and out of the zone more often (Watch and Chase, respectively). Put it all together, and Nolasco is looking as effective as he was two or three years ago.