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Ricky Nolasco

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Carlos Enrique Nolasco

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[edit] Biographical Information

Ricky Nolasco was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round of the 2001 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Spider Jorgensen and made his pro debut that summer. He pitched in the Cubs' chain from 2001 to 2005, and had some very good seasons. In 2002, he was 7-2, 2.48 for the Boise Hawks of the Northwest League, in 2003, he went 11-5, 2.96 for the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League, then he had his best season in 2005. That year, he was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Year on the strength of a 14-3 record, a 2.89 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. After that season, on December 7th, he was traded to the Florida Marlins along with Ps Sergio Mitre and Renyel Pinto in return for OF Juan Pierre.

Nolasco was one of a group of young Marlins pitchers having a good year in Joe Girardi's sole season at the helm in 2006. Making his major league debut in Florida, he went 11-11, 4.82 in 35 games after starting the season in the bullpen. However, he missed most of 2007 with an arm injury, logging a record of 1-2, 5.48 in 5 games; he missed most of April after an early-season relief appearance, then made four starts in May before being shut down after a loss on May 17th.

Nolasco came back strong in 2008, spending the entire year in the starting rotation and notching 15 wins against only 8 defeats. His 3.52 ERA was the best of his career, he topped 200 innings for the first time and struck out 186 batters.

The following season, on September 30, 2009, Nolasco struck out 9 consecutive Braves batters on his way to recording 16 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. The 16 whiffs were a Florida Marlins franchise record, while the 9 straight were one short of the Major League record set by Tom Seaver in 1970. Only four pitchers have struck out nine straight batters: Seaver, Nolasco, Mickey Welch and Jake Peavy. That performance came as he set a personal record for strikeouts in a season with 195, in only 185 innings. He went 13-9 in spite of a poor 5.06 ERA, but still confirmed his place as the Fish's second-best starter behind Josh Johnson.

Nolasco was on his way to another solid season in 2010 when his season ended early with a knee injury suffered on August 28th which required surgery. He was 14-9 in 26 starts at the time, but had only pitched 157 2/3 innings. He then suffered a strained thumb in spring training in 2011, setting him further back. However, he came back to make 33 starts and pitch over 200 innings, putting up a 10-12 record, although his 4.67 ERA was not particularly good. On May 6, 2012, with the team now called the Miami Marlins, Nolasco beat the San Diego Padres, 6-3, to improve his record to 4-0 on the year. It was the 68th win of his career, tying him with Dontrelle Willis for most in franchise history. He passed him on May 22nd with a 7-6 win over the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Park; it was a struggle as he gave up 4 runs in 6 innings, and saw his relievers struggle through the last three frames, giving up two more runs, before Heath Bell registered the save with Jordan Pacheco, representing the tying run, stranded on third base. He finished the year with a record of 12-13, 4.48, in 31 starts, pitching 191 innings.

Nolasco went into the 2013 season knowing he was on the trading block, as he was set to become a free agent at the end of the year, and the Marlins had traded away all of their veterans except for him in an off-season fire sale. As the staff's unquestioned ace, he took his regular turn on the mound over the early months and when he was finally traded on July 6th, he was leading the National League with 18 starts. He was 5-8, but with a 3.85 ERA, his best since 2008, at that point. The trade sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for three youngsters, Steve Ames, Josh Wall and Angel Sanchez. He was excellent in his debut for his new team on July 9th, limiting the Arizona Diamondbacks to a run on 4 hits in 7 innings in a 6-1 win. In fact, he was 8-1, 2.07, over his first 12 starts for the Dodgers, then faded down the stretch to finish a combined 13-11, 3.70 in 34 games. Because of his late struggles, the Dodgers skipped him in their Division Series win over the Atlanta Braves, preferring to start ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest instead. He was then hit hard in his only start in the NLCS, giving up 3 runs in 4 innings to take the loss against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4. Those late struggles deterred the Dodgers from going all out to re-sign him after the season, and instead he found an unlikely suitor in the Minnesota Twins, who made a rare free agent signing when they inked him to a multi-year deal on November 27th.

Nolasco's brother, Dave Nolasco, played in the minor leagues from 2001-2004.

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