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Olsen is getting closer, but he's not there yet

Scott Olsen still plans on being ready for the first week of the regular season, which for him mattered most Saturday after his second preseason start. "My arm's still attached," Olsen said. "Nothing broke today."

In the Nationals ninth consecutive loss to begin spring training, Olsen started and allowed one run on four hits and no walks in three innings. More important than the results, Olsen felt he took another step forward in his recovery from last year's shoulder surgery. His fastball zipped at 88 miles per hour, an upgrade from his first start.

"I'm getting there," Olsen said. "I'm real close. I don't know how close, but I think I'm real close. Maybe another start and another couple of innings underneath my belt and I think we'll be ready to go.

"I felt as though we were stronger today than we were five days ago," Olsen continued. "In another five days, hopefully we'll be even stronger than we are now."

Early this spring, Manager Jim Riggleman said the Nationals are "counting on" Olsen this season. While also reworking his mechanics, Olsen has allowed four runs on 11 hits in five innings.

Olsen still has room to strengthen his arm, though. He wants to be at 100 percent for his last two starts of spring. If he stays on schedule, he'll make four more starts this spring.

"He made a little progress today from the last time," Riggleman said. "That's what he's got to do each time out. He's not where he needs to be yet. But he's getting closer."

"I feel as thought I'll be 100 percent ready to go whatever day they decide to give me the ball," Olsen said. "That was the plan last year with the training staff. We're still right on schedule with what we agreed on last July."

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 13, 2010; 5:43 PM ET
 
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Comments

First!

A healthy Olsen may be the difference between 65-70 wins or 75 to 80 wins, IMO. if he is healthy and picthing every fifth day and has a record around .500, i will be quite happy.

Posted by: jmurray019 | March 13, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Who Cares!!

A healthy Olsen may be the difference between us having a below average, yet decent bullpen, and us having a stressed, overworked, well below average bullpen.

A healthy and effective Olsen is worth at least 5 wins.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 13, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: Your crankiness is showing.

As you say, a healthy Olsen might be worth 5 wins, but a healthy & effective Olsen could be worth 9-12 wins.

Posted by: BinM | March 13, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

BinM - Crankiness? For sure, excuse me.

Healthy and effective Olsen 9 - 12 wins?
Agreed. 5 - 6 for having an effective 3rd starter, 5 - 6 more for the reduced strain on the bullpen.

I really feel for Chico right now.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 13, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

If Olsen ends up in the #4SP slot to start the season, all is well. If he becomes the #3SP by default, the Nationals could be in for a l-o-n-g early season, and had better carry seven relievers.

Posted by: BinM | March 13, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

@sunderland: I think we're on the same wave, but only differ on Olsen's "effective" range. If he maxes out at 90, he's healthy but only worth 5 wins; If he can get back to 92-94, then he's both healthy & effective, and worth the higher win rating.

Posted by: BinM | March 13, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Then, BinM, how long can Olsen maintain it? Given that he even reaches that peak? I think everyone and especially the FO is grasping at straws with Olsen, Chico, and Wang.

At this point I say let Storen pitch 3 innings and see if he can start. They have enough of these "veterans" that Rizzo has acquired to work in relief and close. Bruney and Capps lead the list.

They need starting pitchers and quality starts not "straws". Try Storen, and Clippard.

They need to stop trying to squeeze water out of a rock. It will never work. They missed their shot at Aroldis Chapman and now they are stuck.

I think a rotation of Strasburg, Storen, Lannan, Marquis, and finally Livan Hernadez would do for now ... and then there's
Tyler Clippard. Maybe IT is time to give him a chance at starting again.

What's more important a rotation generating quality starts or "the closer"? At this point it looks like they need the starters more.

Posted by: periculum | March 13, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

A positive sign and looking for anything to be positive about!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 13, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

periculum, trying to stretch out Storen is an interesting idea, but it will never happen.

I've always been of the mind that they'll keep Strasburg down until June-ish for the obvious business reasons.

But if it means a woeful April & May, and sucking all the momentum out of this team and this town, I think they need to let Strasburg come north, and not let another season slip away.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 13, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Again without some rapid advancement for the remaining fireballers, Nate Karns, and Trevor Holder I don't see the starting situation improving anytime soon.

You have what many here refer to soft-tossers: probably the two best are Hernandez and JD Martin, after that you can choose between Stammen, Olsen, Chico, etc.

Mock may fit in and he may not. Right now he looks quite a bit worst than Martin. That can't be good.

I don't see what this organization has to lose trying Storen and rekindling Clippard as starters. They are effective. You already have guys that could conceivably fill their current roles. But you need quality starts and their is no where else to turn.

Posted by: periculum | March 13, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Nine and counting
natives, already cranky
but I'm eleventh!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 13, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Sec3, I can't even spell hi-ku.

Sec3-my-sofa
Way too classy for NJ
An even dozen

Posted by: Sunderland | March 13, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I thought Storen signed with them expressly because they wanted him to close, not start.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 13, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

One thing be "bring Strasburg up now" argument overlooks is, those big-league hitters are going to light him up at first. What if they bring him north, and it doesn't help? Then what?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 13, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

"One thing be "bring Strasburg up now" argument overlooks is, those big-league hitters are going to light him up at first. What if they bring him north, and it doesn't help? Then what?"

That could happen in June too. Almost guarantee that the Nats are going to send both he and Storen down.

When they do come up and if they flounder then I think you can assume that the Nats are pretty much through for 2010 at least.

Posted by: periculum | March 13, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I think Storen just wanted to get to the majors as rapidly as possible. Thus "closer".

They are going to use him as a "set-up" man? What a waste when they need quality starts?

If they are smart and he goes down they send him out as the starter for a few games just to see ... and if that goes well?
Fait Accompli.

Posted by: periculum | March 13, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

For all the gnashing of teeth about Dukes and 2010, let's take a peek at the better days to come. Ladies and gents your 2012 Nats:


cf Nyjer
ss Desmond
3b Zimmerman
1b Dunn
lf Willingham
rf Harper
c Norris
2b Espinosa
SP Strasburg

I'd pay to see that club.

Posted by: Drew8 | March 13, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

So how long will it be before the Nats (privately) admit that Strasberg is already their best pitcher?

Posted by: paulkp | March 13, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse


FWIW: Harper update.

In 24 games, the kid is hitting .413 with 8 homers, 22 RBI and 28 runs scored. He's slugging .875, and his on base percentage is .505.

And he's 17. Mad chops. Ridiculous.

Posted by: Drew8 | March 14, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Have they denied it?
*******
So how long will it be before the Nats (privately) admit that Strasberg is already their best pitcher?
Posted by: paulkp | March 13, 2010 11:26 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 14, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think whether discussing in private or public, it is obvious Strasburg is their best SP (or will be by the end of 2010 barring injury)... who else is even close?

We have some smart pitchers who get by (with varying results) using middle-of-the-road stuff (Lannan, Livan, Martin, etc)...

And we have a few guys with live arms who have a poor concept of what to do with it and an inability to execute consistently (Balester, Mock, etc)...

Marquis is somewhere in the middle there... so...

Maybe something will "click" for one of the other live arm guys... maybe Wang and/or Olsen will come back from shoulder injuries to show their previous forms...

But that is hard (impossible?) to count on... so we are left with a bunch of slop ballers until they decide to recall Strasburg... along with the hope that Zimmermann comes back to pre-injury form by Opening Day 2011...

Posted by: Ghost7 | March 14, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Lannan-Marquis-Olsen. Has there ever been a slower tossing top of the staff rotation in the history of baseball? Throw in Chico and Livo in the 4 & 5 spots and I Rod will have a tired arm by the end of May. Run, Forrest, run!!

Mock, Martin, Martis, Ballester, Stammen...any one of them looks like Strasburg by comparison. Too bad they're not any good.

So, how's our middle relief corps looking? Getting blown up daily you say? LOL. 2010 is looking uglier with each passing day.

Posted by: howjensen | March 14, 2010 4:05 AM | Report abuse

"Yeah, I think whether discussing in private or public, it is obvious Strasburg is their best SP (or will be by the end of 2010 barring injury)... who else is even close?"

Storen is.

Posted by: periculum | March 14, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

cf Nyjer (will be into his 30's?)
ss Desmond
3b Zimmerman
1b Dunn (free agent next year,if the lose 100 again?)
lf Willingham (he'll be traded undoubtedly)
rf Harper (he'll still be in the minors probably for at least
another year)
c Norris (can he really learn to catch?)
2b Espinosa (can he learn to hit?)
SP Strasburg

So now your "2012" line up becomes:

Morgan, Desmond, Zimmerman, Strasburg?

Here's my guess based on what a very bare cupboard of a farm
system has to offer.

1. Eury Perez CF
2. Jeff Kobernus 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
4. Adam Dunn 1B (The sign him long term this year)
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Derrick Norris LF/C
7. Destin Hood RF
8. Adrian Nieto C
9. Steve Strasburg SP
Deck McGuire SP
John Lannan SP
Ross Detwiler SP
Aaron Thompson SP
Nathaniel Karns SP
Trevor Holder SP

Bench: Steve Lombardozzi MIF, JP Ramirez OF, Mike Daniel OF,
Leonard Davis UTIL, Chris Marrerro OF, Sean Rooney C,
Michael Burgess OF , Mike Morse IF/OF.

Bullpen: Tyler Clippard, Rafael Martin, Jack Spradlin,
Closer: Drew Storen

Posted by: periculum | March 14, 2010 4:48 AM | Report abuse

Other than Norris, the Nats have no position players in their farm system rated among the top 125 minor league players. Check it out.

The cupboard is bare to the bone...still. Any talk of 2012 being "the year" is pure fantasy league bull jive.

Posted by: howjensen | March 14, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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