Going into spring training, there was a healthy competition for the fifth starter spot between Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno, David Phelps and Adam Warren. All pitched well, and all made the team, but it was good to see some depth. Well, that depth is now being tested. With Pineda’s suspension and Ivan Nova‘s Tommy John surgery, the Yankees need a guy to step up. That guy could be Nuno.
Nuno pitched outstandingly against the Rays last Sunday, but was limited to 75 pitches because his arm hadn’t been stretched out yet. Now, he can go all out, and prove that he has belonged in the rotation all along, beginning with today’s start.
In watching Nuno during spring training, he didn’t look all the comfortable coming out of the bullpen to begin with. In the three games he pitched out of the bullpen, he had an ERA of 14.54. Opponents were hitting .450 off him with a BABIP of .500! Granted, it’s a small sample size of 4.1 innings, but even then it’s insanely high.
Another plus for Nuno is that he is throwing harder this season. According to Fangraphs, all of his pitches have seen a jump in velocity. His fastball has gone from 88.3 to 89. His curveball has made a jump from 75.3 to 77.1 this year. As a left-hander, you don’t need to throw super hard to be effective. Just look at Tom Glavine. You just have to know how to spot your pitches.
The Yankees got Nuno for nothing as a minor-league free agent. That nothing signing, could turn out to be very important if he continues to pitch well as a starter.