As you know, Nick Vincent and his lush Vaudevillian beard went on the DL this past week, with Nick expressing disappointment at his performance:
Nick Vincent on trying to pitch through the pain: pic.twitter.com/VvIHH5fhZV— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 29, 2016
This is not Vincent’s first trip to the DL; drafted in 2008, Vincent looked like a sure bet to crack the Padres’ Opening Day roster in 2012 before a severe high ankle sprain suffered in spring training knocked him to the DL. In 2013, it was inflamed tendons in his right forearm causing his right wrist to ache (also an injury that cropped up during spring training). In 2014, “shoulder fatigue” sent him to the DL for most of June and July. Between his injuries and being shuttled up and down between AAA El Paso and Petco, Vincent has yet to complete a full season in the majors. Now, he won’t have that opportunity with Seattle, either. However, before his injury, Vincent was one of the most effective relievers in the Seattle bullpen, his June falloff notwithstanding. Despite being halfway to besting his season-high for appearances, he was posting near-career-best numbers with regards to strikeouts and walks, and he was doing so in higher-leverage situations than he’d ever faced with the Padres:
If current trends in the bullpen had remained and assuming Scribner/Cook/Zych/etc wouldn’t be healthy enough to relieve the pressure on the remaining members of the bullpen, Vincent was well on his way to pitching the most innings of his career, and doing so effectively. Glancing at his numbers, you can see why Nick Vincent is one of Jerry’s Kids™—his 2015 numbers represent a career low for him across the board, even as that’s not reflected in his ERA/FIP (which is probably related to the low-leverage situations in which he appeared). Vincent spent 2015 bouncing up and down between the minors and the majors—San Diego strained its bullpen heavily to begin the 2015 season, then sent down a bunch of players to get in fresh arms, and Vincent never made it back for any meaningful amount of time before September roster expansion, so his numbers from 2015 should be recognized as fragments, rather than a picture of the whole pitcher. Considering his history, it is understandable as to why Vincent wanted to remain a member of the Seattle bullpen as long as possible. After being discarded by the one team he’s been with for his whole major league career, his hometown team (Vincent is from Poway, a 30-minute drive inland from San Diego), this year represented a fresh start for Nick Vincent, and an opportunity to play for a team with a shot at a Wild Card berth. Then June happened.
In April, Vincent was nails coming out of the bullpen, allowing only a .121/.121/.303 slash line against him while striking out 12 and issuing no walks. He did give up two home runs, because Nick Vincent has always had a little bit of a dinger problem, as the chart shows. His 1.86 ERA for April looks shiny but a FIP of 3.37 and a ridiculously low BABIP of .105 suggest slightly more average results. Still, it could be argued Vincent was the best option coming out of the pen in April (which, remember, included an unproven Mike Montgomery, Joaquin “company china” Benoit, and an animatronic Joel Peralta). In May, Vincent allowed a slash line of .277/.327/.404; however, those numbers are inflated somewhat by a .364 BABIP, and his 3.50 SO/W ratio is still impressive. ERA and FIP agreed on Vincent this month, at a respectable 2.92. Even better, he allowed just one home run in his 12.1 innings of work. Averaging his numbers between April and May probably gives the best impression of what a healthy Nick Vincent can do. He gives up the occasional long ball, but he also strikes a ton of batters out while walking very few of them. He’s also especially effective against right-handed batters, with a career line of .200/.225/.400 and a deathly SO/W ratio of 9.67.
Vincent’s June numbers show what a not-healthy Nick Vincent can do: a slash line of .214/.290/.500 with four home runs, an ERA over five and an FIP nearing six. Two of those home runs came in the St. Louis game the Mariners lost 11-6, back-to-back jacks in a series of events seemed designed to exact karmic revenge for the Adam Lind walkoff. They also served as the breaking point for Vincent to admit to the necessity of a DL stint. It’s a shame that because of this, the impression fans are left with is of an ineffective pitcher who gives up a ton of homers and is just another weak link in a struggling bullpen, because Nick Vincent is not that, as his career numbers show. Maybe it’s the home run numbers, or maybe it’s the fact that we got him for basically free from the Padres that has kept fans lukewarm on Vincent, but the fact is he’s been a key piece of the bullpen so far in 2016, and will continue to contribute if he’s able to return healthy. Get well soon, Nick.