Projecting the 2018 Seattle Mariners: Juan Nicasio

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Juan Nicasio
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Juan Nicasio /

With Spring Training officially underway, we can now look at the off-season as officially done. In this off-season, GM Jerry Dipoto made 3 major moves. Among them, a reliever who will be a crucial cog in the success of 2018.

Most Mariners fans clamored for Dipoto to add a starting pitcher. Instead, Dipoto added to the back-end of his bullpen, when he signed Juan Nicasio to a 2 year deal in December.

Nicasio, the 31-year-old former starter, had a breakout seasons of sort for the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals in 2017. In 72.1 innings, Nicasio posted a 2.61 ERA, a 2.98 FIP, with a 8.96 K/9 rate. Nicasio also showed good control in 2017(2.49 BB/9), after walks plagued him for most of his career.

Early reports out of camp are interesting. It is said that Edwin Diaz and Nicasio have been attached at the hip early in camp. Serving as a mentor for the young closer is an added bonus. However, he will need to be more than a veteran presence in the bullpen.

Nicasio will be asked to bridge the gap in the 8th to hand the ball off to his young protegé. In addition, should Diaz need a break, or lose his job, Nicasio would be next in line for saves. Fortunately, Nicasio has the solid ground ball rate and whiff rate to handle the duties.

2018 Projections for Juan Nicasio: 68 IP, 22 ER, 7 HR, 66 K, 19 BB, 2.91 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 1.13 WHIP

Overall, these numbers represent a solid set up man. Additionally, Nicasio’s background of working multiple innings and time spent as a starter will be helpful if the Mariners continue to deny they need starting pitching.

Next: Projecting the 2018 Mariners: Mitch Haniger

Finally, the Mariners appear to have a legitimate back-end of their bullpen. Nicasio, Phelps, and Diaz all have “closer stuff”. This trio might be the most crucial for this team. The Mariners margin of error is razor-thin, and they can’t afford to blow many leads late in the game.