Portly pitchers are paramount in baseball. Every schlub in America (and, increasingly in outer space as well...) can get behind a girthful galoot who cuts a graceless figure on the pitching mound. (And everywhere else, for that matter.)
These guys make it possible for the avoirdupois-challenged to retain big-league fantasies in spite of all evidence to the contrary. (Also the age-challenged, the brain cell-challenged, and those who still think they should be taking the Pepsi challenge.)
That's right, fans of slo-mo belt-buckle-loosening replays: Vidal Nuño is back. (And how appropriate that he's going to be with the Tampa Bay Rays, a team whose mascot has the slow, undulating motion that's genetically linked with all of nature's less-than-svelte creatures.)
One of the other great things about Nuño is his lifetime winning percentage. You read it right: .192. Yes, a buck ninety-two...about half what it costs per gallon to get gassed in certain "unfavored nation" portions of the United States. (We all might be wondering which will happen first: the Orange Menace getting impeached or California seceding. It's a tough call...)
Nuño's lifetime WPCT belies the fact that he's not really a bad pitcher. We suspect he's actually going to start for the Rays, though we don't know how many innings he'll get when he does (Kevin Cash having become such an unpredictable fellow--see previous post). With Jake Faria sidelined for a couple months, the Rays have a slot for a starter...or, at least, an "opener" (see previous post...) and we can't think of a better person to occupy such a nebulous role as Nuño, who currently has the third lowest lifetime WPCT for pitchers since 1900 with at least 25 decisions. (His actual won-loss record: 5-21...)
We wouldn't be surprised to see Vidal perform in all three of these roles during his tenure with the Rays--as "opener" (1-2 innings at the start of the game); as "delayed starter" (inserted on the mound in the second or third inning, following the "opener"); and, last but not least, as "legit" starter who goes as far into the game as fate and circumstance allow.
Nuño must be glad to be away from Arizona (though, to be fair, the D-backs are doing a lot better this year than the woeful 2014 squad he joined). It's quite a feat to go 0-8 for a team when your ERA+ is 110, but if anyone can cut a less-than-svelte profile against the grain of common sense, it's Vidal.
Of course, as you can see, he's had to "grow into" his role...but as we all know, with age and wisdom comes gravitas...and Lord knows that Vidal is working harder against gravity than most when he goes into his pitching motion.
Let's enjoy it while it lasts--and let's hope that the "fat lady" doesn't cramp his style...at least for awhile.