ANAHEIM, Calif. — If there is one thing to say about Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco, it is that he is completely unpredictable.
Nolasco will take the mound Tuesday night to face the Rangers, making his 26th start of the season, tops on the club. But which Nolasco shows up is anyone’s guess.
The fact that Nolasco got the victory in his last start — he gave up two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday — is no indication of how he will pitch against the Rangers if you consider how he has performed this season.
Nolasco pitched his best game of the season on July 1 against the Seattle Mariners, throwing a complete-game, three-hit shutout.
In his next start on July 7, the Rangers rocked Nolasco for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings.
It’s been that kind of season for the right-hander, filled with ups and downs. Mostly downs, considering his 6-12 record and 5.16 ERA. He has allowed 31 home runs, the most by any pitcher in the majors.
And the Rangers have been hard on him. He is 0-2 with a 17.55 ERA in two starts against them this year, 1-3 with an 8.68 ERA in four career starts vs. Texas.
Nolasco, though, said his focus is not to look back but to look ahead to the task at hand.
“Every five days I’m going to go out there and give the team everything I have,” Nolasco told MLB.com.
Tyson Ross, who will start for the Rangers, certainly can feel for Nolasco. Though Ross has only made nine starts this season, missing the first 2 1/2 months of the season as he recovered from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, he also has had some high highs, and low lows. Overall, he is 3-2 with an ugly 7.02 ERA.
Ross’ best game of the year came on June 27, when he allowed one run and two hits in six innings of a win over the Cleveland Indians. But he has had a couple clunkers, giving up seven runs in one game and nine (eight earned) in another.
One of Ross’ three wins this year came against the Angels on July 8, when he allowed one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He has done well against Los Angeles in his career, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 10 games, including six starts.
In his most recent outing, Ross gave up five runs (three earned) and walked six in 4 1/3 innings during a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Ross’ best pitch is a cut fastball, but harnessing it hasn’t always been easy.
“It typically has a lot of movement,” Ross told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s a gift and a curse at times.”
Ross has kept the Angels’ sluggers quiet, holding Albert Pujols to one hit in 13 at-bats and Mike Trout to one hit in seven at-bats.
Many Rangers have hit Nolasco well, but none better than Adrian Beltre, who is 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs against him. Rougned Odor is 3-for-8 against Nolasco.