Feb 6, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 31
How acquired: Signed as free agent, Jan. 2013
2014 salary: $1.25 million
2013 stats: 16 G, 7 GS, 60.1 IP, 56 H, 22 R, 22 ER, 8 HR, 14 BB, 45 K, 1.160 WHIP, 4-1, 3.28 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 0.3 WAR
2014 storyline: Ross Ohlendorf heads into 2014 with a chance to earn a spot in the bullpen, but he’ll have to prove himself to manager Matt Williams in spring training first. Though the veteran was a pleasant surprise in 2013, he struggled significantly towards the end of the season. Through his first 10 appearances he held a 1.85 ERA, but over his final six it was 5.18.
Ohlendorf was revitalized last season with increased velocity and a new, old school pitching motion. It baffled hitters when he first came up, but did they figure it out by season’s end? That will be the question for Ohlendorf in spring training as he hopes 2013 was not a fluke and was instead a preview of good things to come.
Best-case scenario: Given Ohlendorf’s place on the depth chart, it’s tough to dream up a best-case scenario for him. The absolute ideal would be him finding his way into the rotation and pitching well, but several players would have to get injured for that to happen. The most realistic ideal scenario would involve Ohlendorf becoming Williams’ most trusted long reliever, and along the way earning a few spot starts. Maybe Ohlendorf can hit the 60-innings mark once again and hold an ERA close to three. That would make him at the very least a valuable option for the Nats out of the bullpen, and set him up nicely for free agency next winter.
Worst-case scenario: Ohlendorf had a bit of a renaissance last season, but it wasn’t quite enough to completely re-establish himself. If he struggles in spring training he could be back in Syracuse, and if he struggles in Syracuse he could be back to square one. With a combined ERA of 7.94 in the two years before joining the Nats, Ohlendorf could use another good season to cement his resurgence . As long as he’s healthy, however, there’s no reason to think his course will reverse.
Most-likely scenario: Ohlendorf is an excellent piece for the Nats, he gives them depth and versatility. Because of that, it’s probable the Nationals will find some way to use him. The most likely path for Ohlendorf in 2014 would be an extended stay in the bullpen. Too much would have to happen for him to become a starter for the Nationals, so expect Ohlendorf to make around 45 appearances and hold an ERA in the mid-3.00s. That’s about all the Nats can ask from him this season.
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