The big story from this game was the coming out party for Pirates righty Juan Nicasio. If fans didn’t see how good he’s been prior to this start, they sure do now. Nicasio stymied the Orioles lineup full of mostly regulars (and Pedro Alvarez) with a ridiculous 10 strikeouts in just 4.0 innings of work. Who the hell strikes out 10 batters in a spring training short outing? Apparently, Juan Nicasio does.
The four shutout innings add to his terrific spring to date, which reads like this: 10.0 innings, five hits, zero runs and 16 strikeouts. That’s pretty good for a pitcher trying to make the rotation. Yes, it’s still spring training stats, but it’s hard to ignore that performance he had today. There’s going to be a lot of words written about Nicasio over Vogelsong in the rotation. Not that Vogelsong has been awful, but right now he’s the No. 5 guy and is making less than Nicasio anyway.
Pedro was back to face his former team and shockingly struggled with an 0-for-3 performance, including an odd bunt against the shift that dribbled right back to the pitcher for an easy out. I don’t miss Pedro, but I’ll admit it was strange seeing him in different colors.
The Pirates built a 3-0 lead behind Nicasio thanks to a two-run blast by McCutchen that was an absolute moon shot off Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. McCutchen has had two very long HR balls this spring. Josh Harrison had a double and looked like his 2014-version this spring. Cervelli was slotted into the two hole and had a nice game getting on in front of McCutchen. Cervelli walked and doubled to get on twice today.
After Nicasio exited after four scoreless innings, the other pitchers struggled mightily for the Bucs. Jared Hughes gave up a three-run bomb to Jonathan Schoop to tie the game. It was Hughes third HR allowed this spring. Hughes is definitely going to make this team, but I’m mildly concerned about the home runs allowed though some have been wind-aided. Following Hughes was Arquimedes Caminero who continued his horrific spring training with four runs allowed himself. His ERA sits at 18.69 this spring. While I know Hughes will be on the roster, Caminero is nowhere near a lock especially with the way O’Flaherty, Haley and some others have pitched this spring.
The Bucs are back in Bradenton tomorrow to face the New York Yankees at 1:05PM.