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Roster preview: Ross Ohlendorf

Feb 6, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

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.

  1. alexva6 - Feb 6, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Ohlendorf hurt himself in a start where his velocity suddenly dropped 10-15mph. He was never the same after that.

    If he is healthy and can pitch at 90-94 like he was, he can be a valuable member of the staff. Either as the 5th starter on in long relief.

  2. water47 - Feb 6, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Since, Mark and Chase are obviously digging deeper into the reporting on MLB payment to the Nats, I wanted to make an observation. It seems that many of the previous beliefs about the Lerners and being debunked. I remember the years of “Their the richest owners but do spend on the team so they are Cheap” comments. In the end, although the may have been frugal and not always spent as much as we would like – They do spend and their plan has been to consistently increase payroll as the player salaries have increased. As o this time, the Nats have not lost a top player from their roster or traded him away due to salary concerns. Granted, that will happen. Heck, even the Yankees have and do lose top talent to other teams willing to pay more.

    Now, the “Lerners got worked by Pete Angelos AND are doing nothing or little about it. So, we fans are getting screwed seems to be somewhat untrue. It is nice to see that the Lerners found a temporary solution to the MASN issue.

    Hey, they have had their own set of PR and other issues but in general we should be thankful for them as owners.

    • tcostant - Feb 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      You said: “As o this time, the Nats have not lost a top player from their roster or traded him away due to salary concerns”

      The answer might be Alfonso Soriano and Aaron Crow, but that worked out okay. Just because it worked out okay, doesn’t mean they didn’t want them at that time…

      It’s really hard to say any others because they had no players good enough to fit that profile before these resent years. I do think out of Stras, Desi and JZimm we are going to only be able to afford two of them.

      • water47 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        Tcostant,

        As always, I am sometimes wrong. Soriano left because the Nats did not pony up the cash. Granted, I think they made the right decision and it was as much about where the team was going, why pay top dollar for a stud OF if the team is going to suck, than the money but still you are right.

        As to Crow, that is a little different. If I remember correctly, the Nats made at least one if not a few offers to him and his agent did not respond until the last few minutes before the signing deadline. I think the offer was only a million apart. In the end, he did not sign with the Nats and had protracted negotiations with the Royals before signing. But, he did not sign due to money.

        So, I was a little off but still two out of so many seems reasonable. Thanks for keeping me honest.

  3. tcostant - Feb 6, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I hate to say it but I think Ohlendorf is this years Zake Duke. I just hope if that is the case, they get him out of there sooner…

    • scnatsfan - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      I think everyone feels that way but there are too many good arms in the minors to stick with him for long if he falters. Still I think he gets that chance to fail.

      • jd - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        I think that Ohlendorf is insurance in case none of: Det, Jordan or Roark works out or in case of injury. I don’t know how else he can make the team.

  4. shawndc04 - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I hope that he makes the team so that I can continue to see that funky windup. Old school.

  5. tcostant - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    I was reading SI this morning and saw this little tidbit about Mariners this morning:

    The Seahawks were just too good for Manning and the Broncos. Once upon a time, the Mariners looked to be the team that would break Seattle’s championship drought. From 1995-98 the Mariners fielded teams with Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez. From 2000-03 they averaged 98 wins per year, including a record-tying 116 wins in 2001. But the team never reached a World Series, nevermind won one.

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20140204/seattle-mariners-seahawks-broncos-super-bowl/#ixzz2sYXFPoME

    I’m pointing this out, because we have a nice core of players with the Nationals, but nother isguaranteed.

  6. sjm308 - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    As crazy as it is, I am already trying to figure out the 25 man roster heading North.

    Can we actually send Ohlendorf back to AAA as Chase’s worst case scenario describes?
    I am not suggesting that is what I wish, I just want to know if its possible. These guys only get so many options and I have a hard time believing he has not used his up at age 31.

    Not that anyone cares but I have him as our long guy & spot starter in the pen with the young arms starting off in AAA. I can’t ignore Roark’s numbers from last year but I want to see him continue to start and if he does not beat out Detwiler, I want him getting regular starts until we need him and I know he has options.

    My pen is Soriano, Clippard, Storen, Blevins, Stammen, Cedeno (I honestly don’t like this but everyone seems to think we need two lefties) and Ohlendorf.
    I start the year with Mattheus, Garcia, Solis, Karns (I really like him in the pen) in Syracuse. I think we are loaded here.

    Go Nats!!

    • alexva6 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      The top four starters are set, Soriano, Clippard, Storen, Stammen and Blevins are set.

      I’d start with Ohlendorf in the 5th starter role with Roark and Detwiler in the bullpen ready to move up if Ohlendorf falters.

      • sjm308 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        I could live with that – I really hate sending Roark down (unless he struggles this spring) and I love Det in the pen. Just hope he would accept that role if it came down to it. If I have both Roark and Ohlendorf on the 25 I think I might start Roark. Those numbers from last year just keep jumping out at me. Not just the wins but the ERA and his whip were just really solid.

      • alexva6 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        for me the decision on Roark/Ohlendorf came down to experience, not much else.

        but that game against the Mets is still fresh in my mind when Ohlendorf couldn’t hit 80 mph with his fastball, next game was pulled after three batters. I really hope he’s healthy

    • water47 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      Good question, not sure if he has a remaining option but, he can always be DFA’d

      • sjm308 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        See, I don’t want to do that. I like having insurance. You accomplish nothing by dfa’ing him

    • tcostant - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      Most likely yes. Ohlendorf could decline and would be a free agent, but would loss his salary if he did so. So unless he pitches lights out and then they try to send him down, I think Chase is assuming that Ohlendorf would figure a bird in the hand ($1.25M) while in the minors is better than two in the bush (free agency).

      • sjm308 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        That makes sense, thanks tcosant

      • jd - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        IMO Det would be best served as the 2nd lefty/long man out of the pen. I think Jordan has more upside than Roark (Roark has a lot of mediocrity on his resume in the minors. Maybe he figured it out and maybe last year was simply a small sample size. Remember, Atilano and Martis were great for several months at a time too).

        I really don’t see Ohlendorf with the big club unless both Jordan and Roark totally blow up in spring training or unless there is an injury.

    • Jb - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Here’s how Ohlendorf goes to AAA: DFA, no other team claims him, he takes the outright assignment to AAA that Corey Brown refused.

      • Jb - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        And he gets his whole salary even if DFA.

      • water47 - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        I was just answer his question. But, we would all prefer not to expose him or any other player to other teams but alas that is the system at least since that evil troublemaker Marvin Miller got involved.

        Speaking of Marvin, I cannot believe he is not in the HoF. He clearly deserves it!

      • water47 - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        “just answering”

  7. water47 - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    106.7 the Fan @ 12:50 PM has Jonah Keri talking about his article on O’s, Nats MASN etc.

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