Scott Olsen last night came out and pitched 5 2/3 innings. At the end, looking at the stats sheet, you might think that he did better than you’d expect considering his spring. After all, 5 Hs, 5 Ks, 4 ERs and 3 BBs in that timespan isn’t terrible. Yeah, it’s not good, but it’s one run and 1/3 of an inning away from the minimum quality start. It makes you think that if he does a tick better, he could give you a few QS this season, which is really the most you could have hoped for.
But that doesn’t tell the story of his performance. The story for the night may have been the late inning comeback. The Zimmerman PH homer. Dunn’s first homer, and really at the right time. Needed insurance runs in the top of the 9th. But that is not what’s important. A win is nice, and a confidence builder is good, too. But even the best hitting teams aren’t going to score 5 in the last two frames (although it’s nice to see that two games in a row, the Nats have scored in bunches).
Instead, what was most impressive was Scott Olsen, through the first 5 1/3. If there had been more signs of fatigue, or a few more hiccups along the way, we may have been talking about his ridiculously good first start of 5 innings. The line for that game would have been 5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K and 1 ER. We would have been talking about his fastball reaching the low 90s and sitting around 89 (instead of topping out at the mid-80s like last year). We would have been talking about his 4 strikeouts – plus he got another in the 5th.
He looked like a good pitcher, until it all imploded in the 6th. keep in mind that this guy couldn’t get anyone out last year – yesterday he struck out 5. That’s impressive. And maybe he shouldn’t have been left in so long in his first start, or maybe a major league starter should be able to go 6 innings without his manager having to worry about fatigue. Or maybe both. Either way, if these are the kind of outings Olsen’s going to put together, the Nats will have a chance to win the games he starts. And if he is being stretched out, so to speak, and can be effective for one more inning a game, I think the Nats and everyone following them will be pleasantly surprised.