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Blue Jays: A look at 8 non-tendered free agent pitchers

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Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Nicasio (29)
2015:  58.1 IP  |  3.86 ERA  |  1.560 WHIP

Here’s a target for those of you still heartbroken over the departure of Liam Hendriks. Nicasio spent his first four Major League seasons with the Colorado Rockies, making 69 starts and 19 relief appearances en route to a 5.03 ERA. It flat-out wasn’t working, but after a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers last offseason, Nicasio discovered some serious velocity in a full-time bullpen role.

In adding nearly 2.5 MPH to his average fastball velocity, Nicasio found his way to a fairly respectable season out of the bullpen with a 0.9 WAR. The Dodgers chose to non-tender him instead of facing his projected $3.1 million arbitration number, but for a 29 year old pitcher who’s new to the gig, maybe there’s some room to go before his ceiling.

Granted, the bump in velocity didn’t do his control any favours. His K/9 shot to 10.0, well above his career average of 7.4, but his BB/9 also jumped to 4.9 from a career average of 3.4. For the first time in his career, however, he allowed a HR/9 under 1.00, with a fantastic 0.2 mark.

This velocity spike breathed some life into a fastball that had ugly, ugly value towards the end of his Rockies tenure. It also turned his slider into a plus pitch that shows potential for growth if he can sustain the recent changes.

Toronto’s experience with Hendriks in 2015 is mostly a fluff link, and his control remained excellent even while adding velocity, but at the very least it gives the Jays a level of hands-on familiarity with Nicasio’s transition and situation.

Next: Last on the list, we take a Minor look at a starting pitcher...

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