It seemed like a different Scott Olsen out there yesterday against the LA Dodgers than the one that fans in the nation's capital are used to, so I was wondering after watching Olsen throw 7.0 scoreless in which he gave up 6 hits and 0 ER while recording 8 K's whether or not Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was the difference, so I asked Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman if he thought the 38-year-old future Hall-of-Famer was drawing these impressive outings out of the Nationals' starters:
Q: I was wondering how much of a [influence] Pudge had on Olsen, it seemed like a different pitch selection than we're used to seeing from Olsen?"
Jim Riggleman: "Well, he's caught him a couple three times now and he did a good job with him. I think that's Pudge's second shutout he's caught now, and he just did a great job. He went out to the mound a couple times to talk to him, get him a little break and talk about how we want to face this next hitter, and it was just a real professional job."
Another writer asked Mr. Riggleman a follow-up question...(cont).
Another writer asked Mr. Riggleman a follow-up question about whether or not this last outing was the best he'd seen from Olsen, and the Nationals' Manager responded that with the exception of a nine-inning outing (really 8.2 but that's being picky) against Atlanta last July, the start against LA on Sunday was, "...under the circumstances...with everything involved coming back from where he's been and stuff, I think that's the best he's thrown." If you check Olsen's pitch selection MLB.com's Gameday as compared to his career Pitch Type percentages on Olsen's Fangraphs.com page, it's obvious Olsen was (if Gameday's pitch selection reports are reliable) relying on his high 80's fastball and low '80's change far more than his slider against the Dodgers.
Through the first three IP, in which Olsen threw 43 pitches total, (again acc to MLB.com's Gameday) the left-hander threw just two sliders. Olsen started the 4th with two sliders to James Loney, but those were the last two he threw that inning, and he dropped two sliders in the fifth and four-straight to start Garret Anderson in the seventh, but that was it for the breaking balls. 10 sliders total out of 99 pitches thrown? Can Olsen continue to be effective with an average fastball and his change? Can he get by start after start relying mainly on two pitches? Am I just imagining that Olsen was throwing a different game yesterday? Is this Pudge's doing?