Last night, the Washington Nationals got more than they could have hoped from Ross Ohlendorf, and it was exactly what they needed.
On just 89 pitches, Ohlendorf dispatched the slugging Colorado Rockies over six innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and two walks, while striking out two. It was Ohlendorf’s first win since August 7 of 2012.
Ohlendorf’s herky jerky, Paul Byrd-esque delivery could be the reason for his success. One could even make the argument he hasn’t been healthy for a couple years, as he has not made more than 21 starts since 2009 when he made 29, going 11-10 with a 3.92 ERA over 176.2 innings.When healthy, he can be a solid back-end starter.
So, is this a flash in the pan, or can Ohlendorf continue this?
What’s more, could last night’s start warrant him sliding into Dan Haren‘s spot in the rotation? Ohlendorf has not pitched in the majors since August of 2012, and rightfully so, as he was 4-4 with a 7.77 ERA with the San Diego Padres in Petco Park, where home runs go to die so much that they moved in the fences. According to last night’s broadcast, Ohlendorf’s velocity was down over the past couple of seasons, and he’s now up to about 91-93 mph on his fastball, which actually makes a world of difference.
What the Nationals could do is place Haren on the DL with some sort of phantom injury, and allow Ohlendorf to show his wares and perhaps work towards becoming a regular starter in Washington’s rotation, following in the footsteps of a Ryan Vogelsong of the San Francisco Giants. Ohlendorf is 30, and this could simply be a case of a player finally being healthy and productive simultaneously.
Washington is in a win-win situation with Ohlendorf. They got a very solid start out of him when they needed it most, and at least are able to give themselves a reason to perhaps sit Haren down to work on his mechanics in rehab games rather than in game situations, where they are basically shooting themselves in the foot.
Ohlendorf’s start could build some momentum for the Nationals, who get Ross Detwiler back this afternoon and Stephen Strasburg back on Sunday. Combine that with Ohlendorf’s start, and all of a sudden Washington could be feeling very confident, and have an opportunity to win a series in a place they historically never play well in.
Ohlendorf could be the tip of the iceberg that turns Washington’s season around. Rocky Mountain high? You got that right.