Back in May, I wrote a column imploring the real Ricky Nolasco to please stand up.
Apparently, he has.
After a brief stint in the minors, Nolasco has been almost untouchable for the past month; in six starts since returning to the Marlins, he is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA and boasts an astonishing 45:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Despite taking the loss in his welcome-back start on June 7, Nolasco was nevertheless impressive; he went seven innings and allowed two runs in a 3-2 defeat against San Francisco.
But since then, dude has been flat out silly.
In his last five starts, Nolasco has allowed just five runs in 34 innings; he's worked at least seven innings in each of his last three outings and has a combined 20 strikeouts in the last two.
If that ain't flat out silly, I don't know what is.
This is the same Nolasco who started the year 2-5, a record that doesn't do justice to just how bad he was. Nine starts into the season, he had allowed five runs or more five times, and he hit rock bottom in his final two pre-demotion outings: 16 combined runs in just 5 2/3 innings pitched.
And now? Nolasco is looking even more impressive than his 2008 rendition, which won 15 games and flirted with 200 strikeouts.
Arroyo has been one of the premier innings-eaters in all of baseball over the last four years. Since 2005, he's pitched at least 200 innings every year and has averaged 13 wins a season. He's been more than serviceable. But right now, he doesn't deserve to be in the big leagues.
After starting the year 7-3, Arroyo is now 8-8. In his last seven starts, he's gone 1-5 and has allowed five or more runs five times. Going from hot to cold to hot is nothing new for Arroyo, so there's reason to believe he could turn things around at any moment -- sans wakeup call.
But this year he has been particularly inconsistent. When he's on, he's on. But when he's off, he's brace-yourself-for-depression off. In his eight wins, Arroyo has allowed two runs or fewer five times; in his eight losses, he's allowed five runs or more seven times, including two starts in which he gave up a nine spot. The Reds simply don't know what they're going to get from their guitar-strumming starter.
Arroyo is 32. He still has some good years left, but this year isn't going to be one of them -- at least, not now. He needs the minors like Brett Favre needs retirement.
I asked the real Ricky Nolasco to please stand up, and he did. Now I ask the same from Arroyo. The only thing is, I'm just not sure which Bronson that is.
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