MINNEAPOLIS -- With a combined $25 million remaining on his contract over the next two years, it's certainly no sure thing that Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco will be moved before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
But with several scouts in attendance at Friday's game against the White Sox, Nolasco boosted his potential value, tossing eight strong innings in the Twins' 2-1 walk-off win over the White Sox in 12 innings. It marked the first time Nolasco went at least eight innings since Sept. 16, 2014.
He gave up a leadoff homer to Adam Eaton -- the fifth time in nine games the Twins have allowed a leadoff blast -- but he settled down from there, scattering two hits and a walk the rest of the way with six strikeouts. He was able to shake off a rough outing against the Red Sox in his previous start, when he lasted a season-low two innings, allowing six runs on six hits. Twins manager Paul Molitor noted that Nolasco didn't have his best stuff, but was able to make it work, which was even more impressive considering the results.
"The competitiveness was there," Molitor said. "He was changing his arm angle now and then. His slow curveball was tough for anybody to hit tonight. He just did a nice job. We talked about him coming back out for the eighth, and he had a really nice clean inning."
Nolasco, who was limited to 37 1/3 innings last year because of injuries to his elbow and ankle, has proved he's healthy this year, leading the team with 21 starts and 124 2/3 innings pitched, averaging roughly six innings per start. But he's also posted a 5.13 ERA, which limits his trade value, and he has a combined 5.44 ERA in his three years in Minnesota.
Twins interim general manager Rob Antony, however, has said he'd be willing to eat money in any deal, and he's not under any payroll constrictions from owner Jim Pohlad. Nolasco pitched better in July with a 4.50 ERA in five outings -- and a 2.77 ERA not counting his rough outing in Boston -- and turned in one of the best starts of his Twins career on Friday. So there at least remains a chance this was his last start with Minnesota, and if so, he went out with a strong outing.
"I thought he was great," said Twins first baseman Joe Mauer, who drew the walk-off walk in the 12th. "He threw the ball really well. He changed speeds really well. He did a great job for us."