Scott Olsen’s shoulder didn’t feel right today. It felt, according to manager Manny Acta, “a little tight.” His velocity was down considerably, from the upper-80s/low-90s down to the mid-80s. Had this been a normal situation today, Acta would have probably pulled him in the fourth inning.
But this wasn’t a normal situation today. The Nats’ bullpen was taxed to the limit last night in a 12-inning loss. And there’s still another game yet to be played tonight. So, with Olsen hiding his injury from the club, he stayed out there for five innings, absorbing a beating in the statistical sense (six runs, five earned, and nine hits in five innings) and in the physical sense (he’s currently having an MRI taken on his throwing shoulder).
There’s no sense yet whether Olsen’s shoulder had been bothering him prior to today — he hadn’t complained about it previously — but based on his struggles (he’s now 1-4 with a 7.24 ERA and 60 hits allowed in only 41 innings) it’s fair to question whether this has been a poblem for a while.
Because Olsen left the premises for his examination, he wasn’t available to media members following the game. We’re hoping to get him once he comes back to the ballpark before Game 2 tonight. In the meantime, here’s what Acta and catcher Josh Bard had to say about the left-hander’s outing today…
Acta, who went to the mound to talk to Olsen in the second inning, asked the pitcher how he felt, and Olsen said he was OK. But as the manager realized later: “He wasn’t OK. But he did gain a lot of respect from me. His shoulder was a little tight and still he did something that probably wouldn’t help him. But he was thinking about his teammates. He wanted to go out there and give us as many innings as he could and pick up his bullpen.”
Bard’s thoughts on Olsen: “I saw a guy that was battling his stinking butt off trying to give us some innings. … I give him a lot of credit. He’s out there throwing 84-85 mph and he’s not feeling right, but he competed.”
Obviously the shoulder played a major role in today’s outing, but remember that Olsen also was struck in the left ankle by a comebacker last Sunday in Arizona and was limping around a bit after that. The ankle could also have been an issue today.
As for what this all means for the Nats’ rotation … well, there’s a good chance they’re going to need to call up two starters from the minors in the next week. They already need a guy to pitch Monday (because of the doubleheader, otherwise guys would have to pitch on short rest). The logical candidate for that game against the Pirates is Collin Balester. He hasn’t been very effective for Class AAA Syracuse — 1-5 with a 6.35 ERA after getting crushed for seven runs and 11 hits in three innings his last time out — but he last pitched Tuesday and thus would line up well to start in D.C. on Monday. Also, Balester’s already on the 40-man roster, a major consideration.
But what happens if Olsen can’t make his next start (Thursday, also against the Pirates)? The logical candidate there would be Craig Stammen, who has been Syracuse’s most-effective starter (4-2, 1.80 ERA in seven outings) and just pitched on Friday. Thus, he could slide in to Olsen’s slot quite easily.
We should have a better idea of where things stand later this evening. In the meantime, here are tonight’s starting lineups (note that Austin Kearns, won’t be starting either of today’s games. He was struck in the hand by a pitch in the 12th inning last night and is apparently still feeling the effects…
SS Cristian Guzman
1B Nick Johnson
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
CF Willie Harris
2B Ronnie Belliard
C Wil Nieves
P Daniel Cabrera
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Ryan Howard
RF Matt Stairs
CF Shane Victorino
3B Greg Dobbs
C Carlos Ruiz
P Andrew Carpenter