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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shocked right there with you Scott

Adam Kilgore posted a good Nationals Journal last night about Scott Olsen's reaction to starting the season in Syracuse. Actually, it's the agent talking about Olsen's reaction. I hate that. Not a knock on Adam, that's how a lot of this stuff is done these days and that's what I hate. Olsen can't speak for himself?

I digress, as usual. My point is I don't understand why Olsen isn't in the current rotation. The Nats wanted to see progress over the course of the spring and that's what Olsen appeared to show.

Spring aside, history has to count for something. I saw Olsen pitch a lot last year. I realize we're not talking about the original Stephen Strasburg here. I realize we're not talking about an annual threat for the Cy Young Award. But we do have a still-young left-handed pitcher with a modest record of success.

Last year wasn't a great year for Olsen and I still saw him pitch at least two games that were better than anything I've ever seen out of Garrett Mock. Nothing personal about ol' Garrett, who seems like a fine fellow. But his upside seems about even with Olsen's middle side. At their best, is there really any question? Didn't Olsen seem closer to being at his best at the end of the spring than Mock?

This line from the Post's online story today jumps out at you: Mock, 26, was 0-4 with a 5.79 ERA in five spring training starts.

Hey, that's Mock. He was 3-10 last season with a 5.62 ERA. Should we really expect anything different this season? Mock will win about a third of his games and have a 5-plus ERA.

Some numbers, basic instead of Sabremetrics that I don't understand: Olsen is almost a full year younger than Mock. He has 33 career victories. Mock has four. Olsen has twice won at least 10 games in a season. His career ERA is lower. During an awful, injury riddled 2009, Olsen won just one fewer game than Mock.

Olsen has proven over time to be a better pitcher and he was a better pitcher at the end of the spring than Mock.

Olsen also seems to have the best chance of the non-Lannan/Marquis part of the rotation of sticking around once the cavalry arrives. When Strasburg arrives and Detwiler and Wang get healthy (we hope), do the others have much of a shot of staying in the rotation?

Craig Stammen's spring was much better than either Mock or Olsen and rightfully earned him a spot, though I don't think he's a long-term answer either. I hope I'm wrong. Someone wrote yesterday that he "settled down" after allowing those two home runs. True. He still allowed two very long home runs to put himself in a 3-0 hole. It's like saying the Nats were 10-8 after their 0-11 spring start. They still had a 10-19 record.

I'm prattling on here needlessly, I know. I think Olsen's agent is right in that Olsen will be in Washington pretty quickly. I just think it is a little bit of a slap in the face to tell him to show progress throughout the spring and then send him out when he does. Even that isn't the real issue. He's a better pitcher than the guy they're trotting out there in his place - over time and during the spring.


George Templeton said...

Could it be an attitude issue with Olsen. Wouldn't be the first time.

Anonymous said...

Remember, Rizzo drafted Mock in AZ, so has a greater interest in seeing him succeed

cass said...

I believe the Nats are trying to get another #1 pick. They've become addicted. That's the only explanation for the Taveras and Olsen moves. They want to lose.

Dave said...

I'm pretty much with you on this, Mike. It seems very clear that Olsen is the better pitcher of the two.

However, I'll also (charitably?) concede that the Nats might be trying to protect Olsen's arm in case he's not 100% healthy.

I saw him shut down the Cardinals at Nats Park last summer. Dominating stuff. A day or two later he was on the DL.

I'm sure they don't want that to happen a second time.

I bet that when Mock implodes and has to come out in the 3rd inning in his second or third start, we'll see Olsen in DC again.

At least I hope so.

Neato Torpedo said...

I think the most likely answer is they want to see Olsen get a little stronger. They know he has it, they probaby just failed to communicate effectively. Something I for one would find shocking for this team. SHOCKING.

However: Is it possibly it's psychological?

Olsen was kind of underwhleming in Spring Training until the pressure was really on. Then he turned into some kind of serial killer. 'Twas not a man. 'Twas a remorseless pitching machine.

Could it be that Riggleman and Rizzo have figured out he needs to be angry and have something to prove to pitch well?

By sending him to AAA, they may be setting that up. It's a dangerous gamble... but if it works, it works.

Or maybe I'm an idiot.

MikeHarris said...

Actually, that makes as much sense as anything.