Updated: August 20, 2008, 10:57 AM ET
Cary Edmondson/US Presswire
Now that's how you put an exclamation point on your rebound season.
After winning 11 games in a promising rookie campaign in 2006, Ricky Nolasco managed to pitch just 21 innings at the big-league level last season due to elbow inflammation.
On Tuesday night, the Marlins right-hander pitched a two-hit shutout, walking one and striking out 11.
Nolasco has stayed strong as the season has progressed, as Tuesday's gem was his fifth straight quality start and the second time in the past four games that he has struck out double-digit batters after recording a career-high 13 on August 2. Even more impressive is that in 68 2/3 innings spanning the past two months, Nolasco has 70 strikeouts and only 7 walks.
His fastball is back to touching the mid-90s, his 11-to-5 curveball is a legitimate big-league out pitch, his slider is improved, and dropping the changeup from his repertoire in favor of a splitter this season has paid big dividends. He's always been able to throw strikes and he's showing what he can do now that he is healthy again.
According to the Marlins' Web site, after a Nolasco outing in July, the Rockies' Yorvit Torrealba told Marlins catcher John Baker, "Can you tell this guy to stop throwing the rosin bag -- or whatever he's throwing -- and start throwing baseballs out there? Because I can't see what he's throwing."
Nolasco is still available in 9 percent of ESPN leagues as of this morning.
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Cueto continues to have a quiet late-season surge, allowing just one run for the second straight start, dropping his season ERA to 4.74, the lowest it has been in a month and a half.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
King Felix failed to strike out a batter for just the second time in his career, as he was lit up by the White Sox -- allowing14 baserunners in five innings. Felix just had no command in this one, and was hit by a line drive in the fourth. He should bounce back in his next start.
Billy Wagner still has pain and swelling in his elbow, and his availability for the rest of the season is now in jeopardy. An MRI Tuesday showed that two weeks of rest did not reduce the inflammation. The Mets will continue to mix-and-match at the closer spot in Wagner's absence, with new acquisition Luis Ayala likely to work his way into the mix. Ryan Church went 1-for-3 in his second rehab game at Triple-A, and the Mets will see how he responds today before deciding on the next step. Jason Isringhausen has a torn flexor muscle, and is out for the remainder of the season. Josh Beckett's next start will be pushed back to at least Tuesday while the team tries to figure out the cause of lingering numbness in his pitching hand. Stephen Drew was scratched Tuesday due to a strained groin, but hopes to be back in the lineup today. Placido Polanco was also a scratch due to a sore knee, and will likely be out today as well. Alexi Casilla (thumb) is expected to return to the Twins Thursday, pushing Nick Punto to shortstop. Pirates manager John Russell said Zach Duke would stay in the Pirates' rotation despite an ERA over seven and an 0-5 record in six starts since the break. Nate McLouth was out of the lineup due to illness and could miss another game or two. Justin Duchscherer could miss his next start due to his hip strain, and there is the possibility he could be shut down for the rest of the season, although it's too early to tell at this point. Delmon Young missed Tuesday's game with ankle soreness, and is day-to-day.
• The Yankess activated Hideki Matsui from the disabled list, and he went 0-for-3. Matsui will be a DH only for the balance of the season, an arrangement that will largely put Brett Gardner back on the bench as a fourth outfielder and shift Johnny Damon to center.
• The Orioles placed George Sherrill on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder. The southpaw has just not been the same pitcher since his extended All-Star game stint. An MRI revealed that the injury is not too serious, and he's expected to return right around the end of the month when he's eligible. Jim Johnson will get the closing opportunities in the interim, with a slight chance of Jamie Walker being used in situations that call for a lefty.
• The Nationals sent Kory Casto back to Triple-A, as the 26-year-old corner infielder struggled to get his average over the Mendoza Line.
• Actual headline from Tuesday: "Royals sign free agent Kip Wells to bolster bullpen." Apparently there is some new definition of "bolster" we are not familiar with.
• It was a rough outing for Philly's Carlos Carrasco in his fourth start since being promoted to Triple-A. He allowed six runs in five innings of work, although he did strike out seven. It was his first poor outing, but he has struck out 29 in 23 2/3 innings at Triple-A, and is averaging a K per inning overall this season. Carrasco could provide some stretch run help to both the Phillies and fantasy teams.
• Mets southpaw Jon Niese allowed four runs in six innings in his fifth start since being bumped up to Triple-A. Niese has been talked about as a potential candidate to fill the next open spot in the big league rotation, as he has a 3.17 ERA in 27 starts across two levels this season, but he's scuffled a bit in his last two outings.