Ross Ohlendorf impressed Davey Johnson in his first start for the Washington Nationals. The Austin, Texas-born, Princeton-educated, 30-year-old right-hander made a spot start on the road in Coors Field and lulled Colorado to sleep with his old-timey rocking chair delivery. Ohlendorf signed with the Nats this past January, went (4-5) with a 4.27 ERA, a 3.44 FIP, 30 walks (3.77 BB/9) and 67 Ks (8.41 K/9) in 71.2 IP with the organization's top affiliate in Syracuse, then started in the mile-high air vs the Rockies and gave up just two hits, two walks and one earned run in 6.0 innings pitched in a 5-1 win.
"That was an outstanding effort he put out there," Johnson told reporters after Ohlendorf's start. "I'm looking forward to seeing more of him."
"He used all his pitches," the Nationals' 70-year-old manager continued, "but basically went right after them. It's a good-hitting ballclub and he made his pitches and went deep in the ballgame. It isn't easy in this ballpark."
"I'm going to try to find a way to keep him around," Johnson said. "I was really impressed."
When Ross Detwiler returned to the rotation several days later, Ohlendorf did stay in the majors. Right-hander Erik Davis went back to Syracuse, but Ohlendorf, who'd started for the Triple-A Chiefs in all-but one game before he was called up, was kept on as Johnson's new right-handed middle reliever, which had the added benefit of freeing Craig Stammen up to pitch late in games where the manager thought he could add more to the bullpen.
Ohlendorf hadn't pitched since that start in Colorado when he was called upon to once again face the Rockies this afternoon in the nation's capital when Dan Haren was hit hard and knocked out after just 3.1 IP. In his first appearance as a long reliever, the results were once again positive. He went 4 2/3 innings in Nats Park, holding opposite batters to one run on four hits and throwing 77 pitches to eat up innings and spare the rest of the Nationals' bullpen for the finale of the four-game set with the visiting Rockies on Sunday.
"He pitched great," Davey Johnson said. "I think he hadn't pitched in about eight or nine days. But he threw the ball great. And he saved my pen. So that was a big boost."
"He's really located and his offspeed stuff he kept down. His fastball -- he adds and subtracts to it. I like that. I mean, today I think he hit 96 [mph] or something. He doesn't need to do that, but in that situation he was a little pumped up. But he does -- he'll go from 88 to 93, just his location, you add in, subtract away. He's a good pitcher."