Friday, May 7, 2010

On Scott Olsen's Near No-No

I know you're all waiting for my Scott Olsen mea culpa. But first, let's consider that the Braves are 28th in baseball in team OPS+. Jamie Moyer just became the oldest pitcher in history to throw a complete game shutout at age 47--against the Braves. And no-hitters are one of the most fluky events in sports. In 2006 Ramon Ortiz took a no-hitter into the ninth for the Nationals--and finished the season with a 5.57 ERA and a league-leading 16 losses. And 28 innings isn't enough of a sample size to conclude much of anything about any pitcher....

OK, fine. Even I'll admit Olsen has looked good his last two times out. His strikeout rate is over 8 per 9, right where it was in 2006, his one really effective year. His velocity is still a couple miles per hour down from where it was, but it's better. He's spotting his fastball, which is forcing hitters to chase the slider.

Now, even assuming that Olsen can keep pitching this well, teams are going to adjust to him, and he'll need to answer. And with Olsen, the mental side has always been as much of an issue as his physical limitations.

But for the first time since Olsen came to Washington, his starts aren't a pointless Cabrera-esque exercise in futility. That's a step, and even I will admit it.


Souldrummer said...

This addresses the issue, but I'm not sure you're fulling wrestling with the facts. I would suggest that the record shows he's been good for *3* outings, sir.

As I've said before, I trust Olsen pitching well for years and years about as much as I trust, well, Livo. I continue to hope that Detweiler will show that he has at least as much as Olsen has with much more upside and justify jettisoning Olsen, potentially as part as that great deadline move in the sky.

We are living in a world where lefty Oliver Perez got a ton of money thrown at him and has been the bane of the Mets' fans existence ever since.

We, however, made a modest investment in Olsen and Willingham and to this point appear to have robbed the Marlins blind given that Bonifacio is barely on their MLB roster and may even be helping us by occupying a spot on their MLB roster.

Dare I say, the Olsen/Hammer acquisition was a positive Bowden move. And then I think Bowden deserves some credit.

But every time I see Christian "4-3" Guzman in the two hole in our lineup and Desmond getting meaningless hits in the 8th slot I am reminded that our motto is In Rizzo we Trust.

Eric said...

My only fear with the "great" start from Livo & Olsen is that the team will keep putting them out there after they revert to form. You can't keep trying to capture lightening in a bottle! Get what you can out of those two, but then trade them to make room for Strasburg, Wang & Detwiler.

Andrew said...

It is time for another "He's ready" post, though. Strasburg absolutely massacred the Gwinnett Braves yesterday. The only ball out of the infield was a dribbler between the 2B and SS... and even then, Bruntlett almost got to it. Plus, he's hitting .375.

Will said...

Souldrummer, don't forget that Jake Smolinski was included in the deal. He put together a very strong season last year for the Marlins' A-level team (.283/.379/.448) as a 3B. He could very well turn into a decent player.

With that said, the trade is still highway robbery, simply for the fact that we found a taker for Bonifacio, who in 3 seasons has always been below replacement.

The fact that Willingham and (now) Olsen have proven to be useful players is a bonus.

Regarding Olsen, I'm cautiously optimistic. All his peripherals indicate his performance is for real (which is probably why Steven didn't cite any besides the small sample size). There's no insane BABIP or BB/9. The only thing that might regress is his HR/FB rate, but even so, it's not super low (7.5%).

Mark said...

Thank you for this Steve!

If you draw the line --- and assume that Olsen is coming back from surgery --- there is a really nice trajectory here. Smart move by Rizzo to take a chance on Olsen. Lets see where this goes!

Having dinner with Olsen isn't my idea of a great night out --- same with Dukes (methinks a steak with Pudge and Livo would be a blast!). But I think you overestimated his headcase nature --- even ornery rednecks can get it together.