The source for these struggles appeared to be the reluctance to use his breaking pitches with two-strikes:
The most notable difference between last year and this year is his reliance on the fastball instead of either of his breaking balls. After throwing 35%/65% fastball/secondary split in two-strike counts in 2013, he’s throwing at a 44%/56% split this year – and his fastball has been hammered. When he throws the fastball in two-strike situations, opponents are hitting .429 (9-for-21 with 3 doubles).
Now, after striking out six against the Orioles and his season-high nine punchouts against the Indians on Wednesday, Nolasco’s strikeout rate has crept up from 11% to 14%. The catalyst behind that is the increased usage of his breaking balls.
Take a look at the difference according to ESPN/TruMedia:
|1st 5 starts:|
|Last 2 starts:|
Good signs out of the Twins’ highest-paid free agent.