May 11, 2010, 7:58 PM EDT
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Back to Citi Field tonight for Game 2 between the Nats and Mets.
NEW YORK — Nothing about Scott Olsen's performances through the majority of spring training suggested the left-hander was capable of retiring, let alone dominating, big-league hitters over an extended period of time.
Olsen, to be honest, looked finished. His fastball rarely hit 90 mph, and even when it did, opposing hitters battered it around the park. I keep thinking back to his March 23 start against the Tigers in Lakeland, when he gave up six runs and 12 hits in only 4 1/3 innings, retiring only 12 of 25 batters faced. Worse, Jim Riggleman felt afterward that was "the best he's thrown" all spring.
Boy, were we all wrong. When he takes the mound tonight against the Mets, Olsen will carry with him a 2-1 record, 3.54 ERA and one earned run allowed over his last 20 1/3 innings. The turnaround has been remarkable. For one thing, he's throwing better pitches than he did all spring, combining a well-located fastball that now regularly tops 90 mph with a sharp-biting slider and an effective changeup that have confounded opposing hitters.
Maybe more importantly, Olsen is pitching with purpose. As Riggleman puts it, it's like every pitch he throws is the most important one of his career. That strategy has worked well for Olsen his last three times out. Can he sustain it? We'll find out in a few hours when he returns to the mound at Citi Field.
Check back for updates throughout…
NATIONALS AT METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of rain, 54 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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