Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf relieved struggling starter Dan Haren on Saturday, putting together a good performance to help keep the Rockies off the board for most of his outing.
Ohlendorf, who had not pitched since June 12, tossed 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and one run on a solo shot by Rockies Nolan Arenado. He struck out four and walked none on 77 pitches.
The Rockies went on to beat the Nationals 7-1, but Ohlendorf certainly did well for himself. He also keeps his name at the top of the list if the Nationals decide to move away from Haren and use Ohlendorf as more than just a spot starter.
He said not pitching in 10 days did not adversely affect his stuff, and he actually felt stronger at the beginning of his outing, which helped him through those early innings.
“Since I have gone down to the bullpen, I have just tried to get myself ready early in the game,” Ohlendorf said. “I got to warm up a couple times in other games, two of them in Philly. It helps just to get a feel again for what it takes to get loose out of the bullpen.”
First baseman Adam LaRoche remembers what Ohlendorf can do from their time together with the Pirates in 2008 and 2009, and he sees that same stuff now in D.C.
“He is good,” LaRoche said. “Another guy I have played with for a while. He didn’t always have that windup. He can still pump it up there to 94 mph and 95 mph at times. He is just pounding the zone. Guys get in there and see that first, quick strike and they look up and it is 1-2 in the at-bat and he is in control. It was good to see.”
Ohlendorf was even able to get his fastball to 96 mph, which is something he had not been able to do last season. He said he can hit that velocity now because of the strength he feels in his arm.
“My arm feels really good now, and it didn’t the last couple of years,” Ohlendorf said. “I was getting over an injury still. I feel like I have figured out how to take care of it this year and that really helps. And also I was really fresh. I felt like in that first inning I got by with stuff, throwing hard. And then as the game progressed my command got a lot better.”
Ohlendorf mixed his fastball in with his slider and changeup. Accustomed to being a starter, Ohlendorf arrived in the fourth and struck out a pair of hitters, sandwiched around a base hit.
“That is the first time I have come in with guys on base in a long time, so I definitely had a lot of adrenaline,” he said.
Ohlendorf said he adapted to what he felt were his stronger pitches as the outing went on, limiting his slider when he couldn’t hit his spots with it early.
“Today, I didn’t feel like my slider was as good,” Ohlendorf said. “I felt my changeup and four-seamer were really good. The second time through, I pitched off of command quite a bit. I also got pop-ups on my four-seamer. (Anthony) Rendon made that nice play to get the double play on the pitcher, which helped.”
And when the bases were empty, the hometown fans were treated to Ohlendorf’s old-school windup, which LaRoche said can cause hitters problems.
“It can a little bit,” LaRoche said. “Anytime guys do something unconventional, it takes a little getting used to.”