Justin Nicolino
Justin Nicolino
26-Year-Old PitcherRP
Cincinnati Reds
2018 Fantasy Outlook
An inability to miss bats may not be a death sentence in the minors, but it's generally a recipe for disaster at the major-league level, especially when it is accompanied by a high walk rate. Last season, Nicolino fanned only 26 with 20 free passes in just 48 innings with the Fish. His fastball, cutter and sinker all sit around 90 mph, so not only are they not especially hard, there's no velocity differential to throw hitters off balance. Further, his change is only seven mph slower, again inadequate for maximum effectiveness. The result is a lot of hard contact, much of it for line-drive and groundball base hits. In 2017, like a lot of hurlers keeping the ball down, Nicolino was victimized by the uppercut stroke, serving up eight long balls. Miami may have no choice but to give Nicolino the ball to start games. Fortunately, you do: just say no. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
#452
ADP
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$Waived by the Marlins in March of 2018. Claimed off waivers by the Reds in March of 2018.
Outrighted to Triple-A
PCincinnati Reds  AAA
March 27, 2018
Nicolino was outrighted to Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday.
ANALYSIS
The Reds were able to pass Nicolino through waivers unclaimed after claiming him from the Marlins over the weekend, so he'll report to Triple-A to open the season. At this point, it's unclear if the team plans to use him as a starter or long reliever in 2018. Across 48 innings with the Marlins last season, Nicolino posted a lackluster 5.06 ERA and 26:20 K:BB.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
 
 
-4%
BAA vs RHP
2018
No Stats
2017
 
 
-26%
BAA vs RHP
2016
 
 
-15%
BAA vs LHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .324 150 16 4 45 9 1 3
Since 2016vs Right .310 425 47 36 117 20 3 13
2018vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017vs Left .397 60 5 2 23 4 0 2
2017vs Right .295 169 21 18 43 8 2 6
2016vs Left .272 90 11 2 22 5 1 1
2016vs Right .319 256 26 18 74 12 1 7
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
 
 
-33%
ERA at Home
2018
No Stats
2017
 
 
-49%
ERA at Home
2016
 
 
-21%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2016Home 4.02 1.44 62.2 2 3 0 3.9 2.3 1.0
Since 2016Away 5.98 1.73 64.2 3 6 0 5.0 3.3 1.3
2018Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017Home 3.51 1.60 25.2 1 0 0 4.9 3.5 1.4
2017Away 6.85 2.01 22.1 1 3 0 4.8 4.0 1.6
2016Home 4.38 1.32 37.0 1 3 0 3.2 1.5 0.7
2016Away 5.53 1.58 42.1 2 3 0 5.1 3.0 1.1
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
Nicolino posted an uninspiring 4.99 ERA while going 3-6 in 13 starts for the Marlins in 2016, which prompted a demotion to Triple-A New Orleans in July. He pitched somewhat better upon returning to the Marlins in a bullpen role late in the season, allowing just one run in 8.2 September innings. With a fastball that rarely breaks 90 mph, Nicolino is an extreme contact pitcher who put up a paltry 4.2 K/9 in 2016. Unfortunately, hitters also hit .317 on balls in play against him, which along with a 1.46 WHIP helps explains the high ERA. Nicolino hasn't struck out hitters at a rate of even 6.5 K/9 since High-A, so it would be shocking if he posts average strikeout numbers going forward. Even if he returns to the rotation in 2017, Nicolino's complete lack of strikeouts and inability to keep runners off base makes him someone to largely avoid in fantasy.
Baseball Reference lists Nicolino’s nickname as "Big Bird," and if pictures were used in these player outlooks the nickname's origin would be obvious. Nicolino's 7.6-percent K rate in 74 IP is the lowest in that many innings since Aaron Cook's 4.9 percent in 94 IP in 2012. Unfortunately, this fits Nicolino’s upper minors work. In 285 IP at Double-A and Triple-A since 2014, he combined for just a 12-percent rate (4.5 K/9). At least Cook had an elite groundball rate to go with his strikeout ineptitude. Nicolino picked the worst era in which to have a strikeout deficiency. It’s hard to find a league type where you would want to bet on this profile.
Nicolino improved his stock in the Marlins' packed farm system, making 25 starts for Double-A Jacksonville in which he hurled 170.1 innings and registered a 2.85 and 1.07 WHIP. Nicolino collected a modest 4.3 K/9 and though his low strikeout totals are a cooler to his long-term fantasy outlook, the Marlins are surely pleased with the 23-year-old’s plus command as he totaled a 4.05 K/BB ratio during his fourth season in the minors. Of course, luck was also a contributor, as Nicolino benefitted from the lowest BABIP of his professional career (.276) during the 2014 campaign. Nicolino is likely to break camp with Triple-A New Orleans after proving his mastery of Double-A competition during a very successful season last year and he’s got an outside shot at making starts for the Marlins this summer as well.
Nicolino struggled to get going following a promotion to Double-A last season, posting a 4.96 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in nine starts (45.1 innings ) compared to the sparkling 2.23 ERA and 1.11 WHIP he posted over 18 starts (96.2 innings) at High-A Jupiter. The blame cannot entirely be placed on the pitcher as he suffered an unfortunate 97-point spike in his BABIP to .388 during his time at Double-A. Lacking elite strikeout ability, Nicolino leans on steady command (3.16 K/BB in 2013) and an advanced approach, frequently mixing location and velocity, to get by. Another trip through Double-A is the likely course of action for Nicolino in 2014 with the chance for a second-half promotion if he pitches well down on the farm.
A former second-round pick, Nicolino was included in the blockbuster deal between the Jays and Marlins in November. As a 21-year-old left-hander with control, Nicolino should progress somewhat quickly through the Marlins' system after carrying a 5.7 K/BB in the Midwest League last season. By most accounts, he has the ceiling to be a good big league starter, but the upside appears to be limited to that of a mid-rotation option as the strikeout rate could tumble a bit as he faces more advanced hitters at higher levels.
The 2nd round pick from 2010 had a very fine season at Low-A and Single-A in 2011, posting a 1.33 ERA across 15 appearances (12 starts) and striking out 73 batters in 61 innings with just 13 walks. His low-90s fastball is complemented with some nice secondary offerings so he should continue to dominate at the lower levels.
More Fantasy News
Claimed by Reds
PCincinnati Reds  AAA
March 25, 2018
Nicolino was claimed off waivers by the Reds on Sunday.
ANALYSIS
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Expected to make roster
PMiami Marlins  AAA
March 16, 2018
Nicolino is expected to make the Marlins' roster as either a starter or a reliever, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports.
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Still part of rotation battle
PMiami Marlins  AAA
March 11, 2018
Nicolino is still in the running for one of the Marlins' three open rotation spots, Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald reports.
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In rotation mix
PMiami Marlins  AAA
February 21, 2018
Nicolino is competing for one of the Marlins' final three rotation spots in spring training, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports.
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Used in long relief Monday
PMiami Marlins  AAA
August 29, 2017
Nicolino came on in relief during Monday's 11-2 loss to the Nationals, tossing 2.1 innings and giving up three runs on four hits and one walk while striking out one batter.
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