There has been a lot of commotion this year to do with the Blue Jays pitching staff. Back issues, off nights (ahem , Romero), minor surgeries gone 60 day DL, and much, much more. The Jays have already gone through nine starters this season; R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ, Ramon Ortiz, Chad Jenkins, Ricky Romero, and Aaron Laffey. So who has the honour of being the Blue Jays 10th starter of the season (in just there 48th game)? That goes to the 23 year old, six-foot-five LHP Sean Nolin.
So who's this Nolin kid? Sean Nolin is one of the Blue Jays top pitching prospects. Nolin throws a fastball from the high 80s to low 90s (MPH), a curveball, a change-up in the low 80s, and a slider. He has been drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and 2009, but signed with neither of them. Finally, in 2010, he was drafted in the sixth round by your very own Blue Jays! Ever since then, the highest level of ball he has been playing is AA (New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Jays AA affiliate, in the Eastern League).
So in just saying that, this doesn't sound like a great idea. But Toronto's options for starters on Friday's game are very limited. With Happ and Johnson both out, Ramon Ortiz coming off of a shaky start, and Romero struggling down in AAA, Nolin is probably the, or one of, the best options! To give you a sense of reassurance, here are his stats from AA this season thus far (missed the first month of the season with a groin injury):
In 3 GS, he is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA, 14 hits allowed in 15.1 innings, 3 R, 2 ER, 16 strikeouts, a 1.239 WHIP and 5 walked batters! Let's get more advanced! In 3 games started, Nolin has 9.39 K/9 innings, 2.93 BB/9 innings, a K% of 25.4% (strikes out more than a quarter of the batters he faces!), a BB% of just 7.9%, and a Batting Average Against of .246!
But will that help him at all? After all, he's not facing some AA team, he's facing the Baltimore Orioles! So, let's put it a bit more into perspective: Against left hitters, Nolin has pitched 3.2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, no earned runs or runs (ERA 0.00), and a batting average against of .267. Against right handed batters, he has pitched 11.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts, 3 runs allowed, 2 ER (ERA 1.54), and a batting average against of .244. So he allows more hits against lefty batters, but tends to strike them out more often. The Baltimore Orioles lineup has 4 lefties, 4 righties, and a switch hitter.
So, that's a mix of both. Tomorrow's game will be a home game. Does that have any effect on Nolin? At home for the Fisher Cats, Nolin pitched one game. He threw only 3.1 innings, allowing 6 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 3 runs, and 2 ER (5.40 ERA). He also gave up an AVG of .429. So hopefully, Friday's game being a home game won't contribute negatively to Nolin's performance. The chances of it are unlikely, anyways.
Nolin's start on Friday against the Orioles will be a night game. Nolin's stats in AA for nights games are: in 2 GS, he pitched 9.1 innings, allowing 10 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, 3 runs, 2 ER (ERA 1.93), and gave up an AVG of .294. Not too shabby. Plus, the chances of him pitching 9.1 innings are next to none.
Also, all of Sean Nolin's starts have been played on natural grass. Turf will be new for him on Friday, and we'll see how he fares, and if he needs to make adjustments.
As always, I am looking forward to seeing how a bright youngster performs in the bigs. This time, it's Sean Nolin's turn.