It was, as has been the norm so far this season, a relatively short stay on Long Island for now-former Ducks starting pitcher Sean Nolin. Nolin, a Seaford native with MLB experience, had his contract purchased by the Seattle Mariners and was assigned to Triple-A Tacoma Friday morning.
Nolin, who signed with the Ducks on May 3, was virtually untouchable in his eight appearances (six starts). The 29-year-old was 6-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 41 innings. He allowed only five earned runs and walked eight batters. After two appearances out of the bullpen, Nolin was moved to the starting rotation and had a 0.77 ERA and struck out 38 batters in 35 innings.
He led the league in wins and ERA, and was second in strikeouts, entering play Saturday.
“Nolin showed that he had great command when he was here,” Ducks president/general manager Michael Pfaff said. “The ability to pound the strike zone, battle when he had to, and use his out pitch to have consistent shut down innings was what helped propel him to the success he had. He was a real presence on the mound and was a fierce competitor. He really used all those attributes to his benefit. It’s what helped get the attention of Major League team and ultimately, the Seattle Mariners.”
Prior to having Tommy John surgery in 2016, Nolin spent time with the Blue Jays and A’s. He appeared in two games (one start) with the Blue Jays in 2013-2014 and made six starts with the A’s in 2015.
Losing pitching is just part of daily life for the Ducks these days. Nolin is the eighth pitcher the Ducks have lost since the beginning of spring training, something that has kept Pfaff and manager Wally Backman constantly looking for arms. So far, winning hasn’t been a problem. The Ducks were in first place in the Liberty Division by 3 ½ games, entering play Saturday. Another month of solid play, and the Ducks could wrap up an automatic playoff berth — which goes to the winner of each half in both divisions.
“Replacing eight pitchers is a huge challenge,” Pfaff said. “It’s been something that has taken a lot of extra leg work from the organization to refill those slots with quality players and pitchers. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do that to this point, but there’s just a tremendous amount of work left to be done.”
The Ducks are known as a prime destination for players looking to showcase that they can still provide value to a major league organization. This reputation, and the clear results that back it up, is a major reason why solid arms keep popping up in Central Islip.
“A lot of players and agents have had success when they’ve decided to sign with Long Island,” Pfaff said. “So, when players do become available, quite often players or agents will reach out to us. We’re fortunate to have the reputation we do. But, there’s also an awful lot of outreach on our part to make sure that the pipeline is full.”
Umpire assistance on way
Pfaff said that Trackman, the radar system that will assist home plate umpires with ball and strike calls, should be fully implanted in ‘the course of the next 30 days.’ The system is part of the agreement between the Atlantic League and MLB that allows MLB to test experimental rules.
All umpires are currently being trained in Somerset and New Britain, Pfaff said.
“It’s going to continue to happen until all the umpires are up to speed with the technology where they have the earpiece in their ear, a communication device, along with an MLB stringer up in the press box to be able to communicate to the umpire,” Pfaff said of the training.
Den Dekker retires
Former-Met Matt den Dekker retired from professional baseball after Thursday night’s game, Pfaff said. Den Dekker, 31, played 29 games with the Ducks and hit .268 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. Den Dekker spent parts of three seasons with the Mets and hit .219 with a home run and 14 RBIs in 88 games in 2013-14 and 2018.