Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Olsen's Excellent Start

Scott Olsen shocked the world last night by going 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits while allowing no walks and striking out 7.

As we'd been told, his velocity was indeed up. According to Pitch FX, his four-seam fastball averaged 89.2 mph and topped out at 91.6. For the season, his 'heater' is averaging 87.4 mph. Last year he was at 87.8. So he's up almost 2 full ticks on the radar gun--that's enough to make a difference.

(The season-long numbers I'm citing are from Baseball Info Solutions, not Pitch FX, and it's possible there's a discrepancy in their metrics, but let's assume for now that there isn't).

However, for all the hoopla about Olsen's velocity being 'back,' he's still down considerably from where he was the last time he was any good. His rookie year 2006 was the only year that he's put up a fielding independent ERA under 5.00, and that year his fastball averaged 90.9, almost two more full ticks from where he was last night.

Still, he was pretty much lights out, right?

Yes, but let's not forget who he was facing. The Marlins have pummelled the Nationals, but they are in fact one of the hackiest, swing-from-the-heels-iest team of free-swingers in the league. This is the classic boom-or-bust offense full of guys who swing as hard as they can in case they hit something. The downside of that approach is that they chase a ton of bad pitches and strike out a ton. They hit a lot of homers, but when they slump, they really slump, because they don't string together hits or advance runners.

Here's the K-rates and walk rates of the line-up Olsen faced last night. Keep in mind, an average K-rate is usually around 16% and walk rate is usually 8%:
Coughlan: 20.6% / 12.7%
Bonifacio: 21.3% / 6.8%
Ramirez: 16.3% / 9.3%
Cantu: 14.9% / 5.2%
Uggla: 24.2% / 14.0%
Ross: 21.8% / 5.6%
Paulino: 22.3% / 9.0%
Carroll: 22.6% / 7.5%
When the hackarific Jorge Cantu is your best contact hitter, you've got a line-up that's going to make a lot of bad pitchers look good.

Please don't get me wrong. Olsen had a very nice outing, and I would love for it to be true that he's going to give the Nationals 7 innings and keep them in the game every 5 days from here on out.

But color me (still) a skeptic. I want to see him do it against a team that knows how to take a pitch once in a while.


Anonymous said...


That is the problem with not watching the game and only "viewing it through Excel and stats".....something we always will disagree about.

Even through MASN2...I can tell you that his stuff was great and it was not a matter of the Marlins hitters. He keeps that stuff he is going to be fine. You need to watch the games.

ckstevenson said...

I'd add that Olsen appeared good via the numbers, and that Villone and Tavarez appear like poop via the stats (and were on TV).

For a team to go from hackiest and not getting hits to hackiest and getting hits I would say shows that Olsen was doing a darn good job. Albeit for one game.

What is it with pitchers who have weak shoulders? Olsen was weak, says he did some rehab and adds 2mph. Daisuke Matsuzaka needs to strengthen his shoulder, but isn't in the "Boston shoulder strengthening program". Why wouldn't you have all your pitchers do this? I know it was a must with the minor league team I worked for in the mid-90s.

Steven said...

A friend of mine suggested that this DL stint was about getting Olsen off the Lexapro.

ckstevenson said...

Can one get off an anti-depressant (had to look it up) in 15 days?

Rob B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob B said...

Who's the odd man out in the outfield now that Morgan is on board?
Or do they take advantage of Slick Willy's versatility and send down a 2B?

Steven said...

I predict Belliard is about to be DFA-ed or he may just retire. I think the Morse deal may have signaled Belliard's time here is nearly over.

Souldrummer said...

Would that it would be true that Morse means Belliard is nearing the end of the line. Belliard must go. Belliard must go!

Olsen was legit for one night. I'm glad that he was legit for one night and I'd like to focus on the positive. We're going to give him an extended shot in the rotation and I'm glad that I have some hope that he can perform.

Between Martis and Olsen, though, isn't Olsen likely to be the better option?

Syracuse's rotation is really raking right now. They're working on a shutout of Pawtucket as I right. Estrada, Mock, Balester, Martin, and Martis is a serious AAA rotation. Seems to me that some of that talent ought to be traded for some legit major league position talent at some point.

Time to cheer, cheer, cheer for the Chiefs!