Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Name: Ross Ohlendorf
Position: Starting/Relief Pitcher
Ross Ohlendorf spent 2012 with the San Diego Padres, as both a starter and reliver. In 2012, when he was good he was very good, and when he was bad he was horrid. Inconsistency plagued Ohlendorf when he was with the Padres. He signed with the Padres in June 2012 and was optioned to AAA Tuscon in August. He had been signed as a reliever, but injuries to the Padres rotation gave him an opportunity to start. Ohlendorf had a 4-4 record and a 7.58 ERA while with the Padres, but he had posted an ERA of 14.54 in 13 innings of his last four starts.
The Padres designated him for assignment on September 4, 2012. The Nationals signed Ohlendorf in January 2013 to a minor league contract, expecting him to fill the role of right handed long reliever in the bullpen.
Talk about exceeding expectations–Ohlendorf did that for the Nats. Despite spending some time on the DL, Ohlendorf pitched well for the Nationals–far better than his previous year with the Padres would have indicated he was capable of.
Ohlendorf was called up to the major league club in June after starting the year at AAA Syracuse. Ohlendorf was pressed into service as a starter after the injury to Ross Detwiler ended Detwiler’s season and in seven starts for the Nats, his record was 4-1. His ERA for the season was a respectable 3.28, which was for both his relief innings and starts. In his one loss as a starter on September 18th, he gave up no runs until the sixth inning of the game where he gave up three runs on two long balls.
Ohlendorf’s most critical start for the Nats was in the second game of a double header against the Mets on July 26th. He made his longest start of the year, going seven innings and giving up only one run. The Nats won that game 2-1.
The biggest problem Ohlendorf had as a starter was that you could count on him being gassed at some point after the fifth inning.
Ohlendorf’s contract status is not settled for 2014. He is a free agent and he has not yet been re-signed by the Nationals.
Can Ohlendorf continue to improve and provide the Nats with a reliable long reliever and spot starter? Much will depend on his sinker–his best pitch. When it is working, it is nasty and Ohlendorf is a very effective pitcher. When his sinker is flat, hitters tee off on him. He doesn’t have much of a fastball, so he must have that sinker working. This is a reason that fatigue can be a disaster for Ross. If he gets tired and starts leaving the sinking pitch up he becomes ineffective.
Hopefully the Nats can reach a reasonable deal with Ohlendorf and keep him on the team for 2014. He was a valuable addition to the pitching staff in 2013, and he adds extra value for the team since he can both start and relieve. The Nationals need a second long reliever in the pen to take pressure off of Craig Stammen, who has been overused at times over the last two years.