Top 20 Miami Marlins No. 16: Ricky Nolasco

I love Ricky Nolasco.

I would also love if in five years, Ricky Nolasco isn’t even a consideration for being on this list.

Yet on the list of All-Time Miami Marlins sits Carlos Enrique Nolasco, the winningest pitcher in team history.  Leading the franchise in total innings pitched, appearances, starts, and strikeouts, he was a lock for consideration.

From 2006 to 2013, sparing that one injury shortened 2007 campaign, Nolasco was as consistent an option as they came for the Marlins. However, six of those eight efforts were worse than Tom Koehler‘s worst full season, and Koehler’s not exactly on the Mt. Rushmore of Miami’s all-time pitching greats.  Although, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how many of these milestones Koehler might steal away from Nolasco if he spends another four seasons here.

But, as always, we digress.  Back to Ricky.

Nolasco broke on to the Miami sports scene in 2006, playing Ringo to the quartet of Marlin rookie starting pitchers that made history that season by reaching double digits in the win column (Dontrelle Willis was the George Martin in this metaphor), posting a .500 record at 11-11.  He would not have a losing season in which he played in more than five games until 2011, and would post double-digit wins every full season he played in Miami.

And again, it is that staying power that really locks him into the hearts and minds of Marlins fans.  No starting pitcher in team lore comes close to just matching his perennial presence on the roster.  You could argue Josh Johnson, but you’d also be overlooking a lot of injury time if you did; if it wasn’t 2007, Nolasco was available.  For the longest time, it seemed to be fate that any game I attended would automatically include Nolasco pitching.

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Here you see another Nolasco sighting, this time on the other side of the country.

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Seriously, it was painful.  Think I caught Josh Johnson twice,  Henderson Alvarez once, and have yet to be in attendance for a Jose Fernandez outing.  Now this is partly due to my status as an out-of-state Fish Fan.  But there has also just been a lot of Nolasco to go around.

Of course, it was also successful.  With a career mark of 81-72 as a Marlin, which included nine shutouts, he enjoys a 13-game cushion over his next closest challenger in Willis, whom he passed for the record in May of 2012.  While in terms of ERA, Koehler has been more effective, Nolasco has him cold at locking down and lucking into W’s. Koehler is closing in on the halfway mark of Ricky’s career GS and IP marks as a Marlin, but has only won 26 games – far off pace, but also the active leader in wins for the ballclub.

And there you have it.  No. 47 might not warrant a much better ranking than the one on his jersey for many clubs, but for a young franchise that has seen a flurry of roster turnover in its history, he’s Top 20 material to us.