|Juan Nicasio is a key cog to the Rockies success.|
His line hardly reflected how good of an outing he actually had. In 6-2/3 innings, the righty gave up four earned runs on seven hits. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter. He left the game with only two runs on the board, but was responsible for two runs that came across after Esmil Rogers took the mound.
Throw out the numbers with Nicasio. He has three starts under his belt in 2012 and his second one wasn't pretty. His 6.19 ERA doesn't accurately reflect how well he has pitched.
In his first start in Houston, he gave up just one run before in seven innings before a defensive miscue cost him a win after he had left the game. On Wednesday, he ran out of gas after pitching six beautiful innings.
The thing that is quickly forgotten with Nicasio is that he was rushed to the big league level after the injury to Jorge De La Rosa. He never pitched in Triple-A and wasn't going to be on the Rockies radar until September of 2011, which would put him in a position to battle it out for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring.
A normal prospect in his position would be fighting for a roster spot in spring. Throw in the fact that he was nearly killed on the mound, was a long-shot to walk again, let alone pitch, and he comes back and is a shoe-in for the rotation speaks very highly of who Nicasio is.
The most impressive part of the Juan Nicasio isn't that he is back on the mound. It isn't that he has defied the odds, it is the fact that he pitches with absolutely no fear. He has made it very clear that he isn't scared to go take the mound after the injury he suffered. Most pitchers would say that, but their first few starts back, the panicked look is written all over their face. Not Nicasio, he genuinely has no fear on the mound.
As far as the start on Wednesday goes, the most encouraging stat for the Dominican righty is not the win that came along with it, it is the zero that falls under the walks category. Nicasio attacked the strike zone and didn't become a victim of the free pass as many of the other starters have struggled with early.
For the Rockies to contend, many things are going to have to go right. Nicasio is a key to the whole thing coming together. He has to pitch above his experience level and above his pay grade for the team to have a chance. After a start like Wednesday's, there is no reason to believe that he can't be that guy for the club.
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