Series 7: Lancaster @ York

Jason Olson won’t say he pitched hurt last year.

But something wasn’t quite right with the York Revolution’s setup specialist last season.

He would have his A-plus stuff on some nights, then he’d show up to the ballpark the next day feeling tired. That would keep him from doing the normal exercises that strengthen his arm and shoulders. And you can guess what happened after that.

Olson posted a 0.69 ERA in the month of June in 2007, then he got a little worse in July (2.29 ERA). Then the wheels fell off in August and September. Olson posted a 5.63 ERA in the two months combined.

But this year, Olson looks like a different pitcher and you would never know he holds the dubious distinction of undergoing two Tommy John surgeries. Olson has topped out at 90 mph on the radar gun and has been lights out — posting a 1.04 ERA before giving up an earned run in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to Newark.

He says he has command of all four of his normal pitches (a slider and two-seam fastball are his bread and butter) and he’s even experimented with a splitter. That pitch helped him fool a couple of Long Island hitters who were familiar with his stuff.

But best of all, Olson feels healthy and rejuvenated.

“I don’t have to hope to just sink one in there,” Olson said Thursday. “Every pitch I’m throwing is the best pitch I have. I was never hurt last year, but I had those days where I was never feeling good. I battled and it wasn’t being hurt. I may have been a little weak.”

It’s clear that Revolution manager Chris Hoiles feels Olson is one of his best options in the bullpen. He brought him into a bases loaded, one-out jam against the Bears and was a fluke bloop hit away from getting out of the jam. Olson is also an option to close games when Dave Veres is unavailable.

It will be interesting to see if the 29-year-old gets any looks from affiliated clubs. I didn’t quite appreciate the movement on Olson’s pitches until watching him throw live batting practice in spring training, and it’s clear he knows how to pitch. Plus he has that always-necessary unflappable confidence.

“Once I get two strikes, I say, ‘Good luck to you,'” Olson said. “I won’t give you anything good to hit. If I do, it’s 100 percent my fault.”

Now let’s take a look at the first installment of the 2008 War of the Roses.

Lancaster Notes: How does the saying go? Misery loves company? Well that saying fits well for York in this series. Lancaster (6-13) is just a tad worse than the Revolution (7-12) and York could use a good performance to boost its spot in the Freedom Division standings with four games at Newark looming… Check out Jason Guarante’s latest post over at Barnstormin’. He encourages Lancaster fans not to panic yet and lists some reasons for optimism with the team… Guarente points out that Matt Lecroy, Jarred Ball, Lance Burkhart, Jutt Hileman and Danny Gonzalez are hitting a combined .206 thus far… Lecroy — expected to be a big bopper for the Barnstormers — is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury… Closer Sendy Rleal joined the team this week and blew his first save attempt Thursday, allowing the first four batters he faced to reach base… Tim McClaskey has a 7.91 ERA while Mike Nannini has a 5.79 ERA through 19 games. Lancaster needs both of these guys to stabilize the starting rotation… Mike Woods has a 17-game hitting streak going, one short of the Barnstormers’ club record… Backup catcher Manny Mejia has a nine-game hitting streak of his own and is filling in nicely for Burkhart lately. Mejia raised his average to .412 Thursday.

York Notes: Entering Thursday’s game, York had compiled a 1.48 team ERA in its seven wins while scoring 6.6 runs a game in that stretch. In the 11 losses, the Revs had a 5.91 staff ERA and managed just 2.3 runs a game. This falls under the “feast or famine” heading… York’s bullpen had a 2.43 ERA entering Thursday and had struck out 61 hitters, just two fewer than the starting rotation in 38 fewer innings. Yikes!… York has recorded three shutouts already this season after having only five all of last year… Dave Veres is still nursing a groin injury and likely won’t be used on back-to-back days or for more than one inning… Sandy Aracena leads the club with a .294 batting average… Matt Padgett leads the team in walks (12)… Tyler Von Schell leads the team in RBIs (11)… Traditional reliever Aaron Rakers still leads the club with 22 innings pitched… Speedster Travis Ezi only had two stolen bases so far.

Pitching Probables: (York’s starters first)

Game 1: Aaron Myette (1-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. Mike Nannini (0-2, 5.79 ERA)

Game 2: Corey Thurman (0-3, 11.05 ERA) vs. Tim McClaskey (1-1, 7.91 ERA)

Game 3: Dave Gassner (1-1, 1.35 ERA) vs. Ricardo Gomez (1-1, 2.77 ERA)

*Olson photo by John Pavoncello.

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2 Responses

  1. Isn’t the splitter Veres dominant pitch? I wonder if Olsen has benefited from having Veres there in the pen this season as he’s added the splitter.

    I realize that the rivalry probably isn’t as big of a deal to the players as it is to the fans, but a sweep this weekend could really build some momentum. From the stats, it looks like the Revs could get some offense going against the Stormers first two starters, although the same might be said of York’s starters.

    Hopefully, Myette’s start in Somerset was just an off night and the fact that he was left out there to get shelled doesn’t hurt his confidence.

    I’m wondering, too, how many poor starts Thurman can put together before the Revs start looking for his replacement? A few bad starts to start the season could be pinned on the short spring training, but eventually he has to start having quality starts.

  2. You’re right, Veres’ dominant pitch is the splitter. I asked Olson in spring training if he was going to ask Veres for some tips. I forgot to ask him about that again Thursday.

    From the stats, it looked like York was going to beat up on Newark’s pitching staff too. So I don’t know what to expect from the Revs in this series.

    And with Thurman, I’ll hopefully have some news later today that could affect the starting rotation. Just waiting for a couple things to become official.

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