Let’s not pretend Ross Ohlendorf pitched a no-hitter against the Rockies. Or even had the best Game Score for a starting pitcher last night (he ranked 7th, with a 64). He only struck out 2 while walking 2.

But in 6 IP, he only gave up 1 ER against the second best offense in the NL (in terms of runs scored). And this was at their park that’s notoriously good for hitters. This is a guy who hasn’t exactly been dominant in AAA.

Yet he managed to go the first 5 innings only allowing 1 walk and 1 bunt single. There were a couple of hard hit balls (Tulo flied out to deep CF in the first, Colvin did the same in the 5th), but for 5 innings, he was pretty much brilliant. This included a combined 12 PAs from the top 4 hitters in the Rockies lineup – Fowler, Herrera, Gonzalez, Tulowitzki – who all entered the game with averages of .300 or better. Add in 2 PAs from Todd Helton and you don’t exactly have an easy lineup.

Ohlendorf went after them most mostly fastballs. PitchFX has him throwing his four-seamer 72% of the time, averaging 91.82 mph. His slider was his next most frequent pitch, at 18%, followed by his changeup.

He actually only threw 4 sliders before the 5th inning, and then 12 in the 5th and 6th. So if you thought it wasn’t working and he went away from it, you’d be wrong. Interestingly, he threw 10 of his 16 sliders against two hitters – Tulo and Arenado. Other than Torrealba (who did see 1 slider), those are the only RH hitting position players he faced. It seems like there wasn’t much discomfort with the pitch, he just only wanted to use it against righties. And he got his highest swing and miss percentage (12.5%) on the sliders – but that triple was off a slider, too.

He wasn’t nibbling on the edges, finding the middle of the plate perhaps a bit too much. But he isn’t a groundball pitcher and yesterday was no exception. They just didn’t hit the fly balls far enough.

There were signs in what he did that he might not be able to repeat this performance. But he also came out and dominated, so he deserves another chance to start. But with Detwiler returning today, and Strasburg scheduled to start on Sunday, it hopefully won’t be for any injured pitcher.

Will it be in place of Dan Haren? I think if he keeps up his 5.70 ERA, it’s quite possible. $13M or not, that salary has already been committed. The Nats have to do what is best for the Nats right now, and that’s pitching the best guy they can. At this point, after one start, Ohlendorf has an argument that he deserves to be number 5 on the list.


By Charlie