Juan Nicasio is lost. By his own admission he does not know what’s wrong, just that something isn’t working. Hopefully a stint in the minor leagues gives him the space to turn things around and still make a meaningful contribution this season.
On Monday the Rockies announced that Nicasio had been demoted to make room for former first round pick Kyle Parker.
This is just a gut feeling, but is the career trajectory of Nicasio starting to feel like the pitching version of Dexter Fowler? Loads of promise, flashes of brilliance, and devastating inconsistency. Certainly a demotion at this stage feels a lot like Fowler’s stints with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox as he tried to figure things out.
Nicasio’s season started with nothing but promise thanks to a dominant showing in the team’s home opener. Even as recently as his start in Atlanta to start a recent road trip Nicasio flashed the high ceiling that has bought him lots of extra chances in the rotation. Unfortunately the Rockies finally reached the point where his upside did not outweigh his struggles on the mound.
When asked about the state of his game, Nicasio said the following (quotes courtesy of MLB.com):
"I’ll try to figure out myself, because right now I’m struggling, really struggling,” Nicasio said. “I need to come back good.“I feel strong. I’m good. My body is good. I don’t know what’s going on right now. So I got sent down to try to pitch better, and command my fastball. Right now, I’m lost. I lost my breaking ball and my fastball. I’ll work on the command of my fastball.”"
We have only talked about fastball command for Nicasio’s entire career. The question is, will he be working on it in the context of transitioning to a role in the bullpen? With the eventual returns of Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, and Eddie Butler from injury and the solid work of Christian Bergman and Tyler Matzek thus far, it seems highly unlikely Nicasio will have a spot in the rotation.
Can he develop and tweak his approach to be an effective reliever? If he can it will be a huge boost for him and for the Rockies.