One day after Ricky Nolasco’s worst outing in a Twins uniform, it was revealed that Minnesota’s right-hander has been pitching through an injury.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Monday told reporters in Seattle that Nolasco will have an MRI in Minneapolis on his right elbow after experiencing elbow soreness. Nolasco didn’t make any mention of elbow problems when he met with reporters following Sunday’s start, in which he allowed six runs in just two innings.
According to reports, the Twins grew concerned about Nolasco’s arm when his fastball velocity was lower in Sunday’s outing than it had been previously.
"Basically everything he’s done this year is nothing like the reports we had," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He’s not pitching the same way he did last year. . . . He hasn’t been as effective with his pitches. He hasn’t had the same command as he’s had."
The Twins signed Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal this past offseason, which was the largest free-agent contract in team history. Minnesota was also hopeful that Nolasco could give it plenty of innings, as he had thrown 185 innings or more in five of his first eight seasons.
So far, though, the 31-year-old Nolasco has failed to live up to the expectations that accompany such a hefty contract. After Sunday’s two-inning start, he fell to 5-7 while his ERA grew to 5.90. He’s also averaging just 5.76 innings per start. In his first eight seasons with the Marlins and Dodgers, Nolasco had an 89-75 record with a 4.37 ERA in 229 career games (212 starts).
It remains to be seen what Minnesota will do with Nolasco’s rotation spot if he does end up missing time due to his elbow. Kris Johnson, who made one spot start with the Twins earlier this year, is in line to make his next start the same day Nolasco would after pitching Sunday for Triple-A Rochester. Johnson is 8-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 16 starts for the Red Wings this season.
Berrios, Melotakis promoted: Twins prospect Jose Berrios has been one of the best pitchers in Minnesota’s system this year, and the 20-year-old Puerto Rico native is being rewarded.
The Twins announced Monday that Berrios and fellow pitcher Mason Melotakis have both been promoted from High-A Fort Myers to Double-A New Britain. In 16 starts this year, Berrios is 9-3 with a 1.96 ERA. A first-round pick by Minnesota in 2012, Berrios will also pitch in the Major League Baseball Futures Game next Sunday at Target Field. In 96 1/3 innings this year, Berrios has struck out an impressive 109 batters while walking just 23.
Melotakis, taken in the second round by the Twins in 2012, has pitched primarily out of the bullpen for Fort Myers but did make two starts. In 25 games for the Miracle he posted a 3.45 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 24 walks in 47 innings.