Garrett Olson's Success Ties into the Seattle Mariners' Fate

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Garrett Olson's Success Ties into the Seattle Mariners' Fate
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

"Garrett Olson should have a slot in the rotation nailed down by 2008 and projects as a mid-rotation starter. He is already close to his ceiling and only the further development of his changeup is holding him back." - By Michael Hollman, Senior Writer, Posted Feb 28, 2007 on Scout.com

Garrett Olson, a former mid range prospect, was once considered to have the best control and best curve ball of the entire Baltimore Orioles farm system by Baseball America 2007.

His time in the minors has showed one thing, and that is he throws strikes.

While there was never any thought of him as anything above a B level prospect since his arrival to Seattle, Garrett Olson has been the subject of much debate within the Seattle sports fan community.

Where is he most effective?

Is he/is he not a starting pitcher?

Many feel as if he would be a threat to fan favorite Ryan Rowland-Smith's rotation spot in the early spring, after finishing the season as a starter in an albeit brief, but effective audition.

Proving to be one of few bright spots within the '08 season.

As it turns out, Garrett Olson was shipped down to AAA, Tacoma to be a starter after Spring Training, which, like all past assignments, Garrett excelled.  Posting a Fielding Independent Pitching on an ERA Scale (aka FIP) of 3.47 and a WHIP (Walks + Hits divided by the number of innings pitched) of only 0.97 in 26-and-one-third innings.

Garrett was recalled on May 7 to the Mariner's bullpen when Shawn Kelley was injured, and with more injuries to Ryan Rowland-Smith, Carlos Silva, and Erik Bedard, Olson was inserted into the starting rotation.

Since this time, he has accumliated a FIP of 5.70, a dropped K/9IP of 5.28 (a career low), and a glairing HR/FB (home run, flyball ratio) of 12.5 percent.

These statistics plus a few ugly moments have led to most of us (Seattle Mariner fans) praying and waiting for Ryan Rowland-Smith to return to "his" rotation spot.

However, this has not happened, and Rowland-Smith sits in waiting down at AAA, spawning the knee jerk "GET HIM OFF THE STAGE" like remarks.

How could a guy with such potential be so unwelcome because of a limited sample size of struggling within the city?

While I am a huge supporter of Ryan Rowland-Smith, I see things like they are.  The reality is that Garrett Olson has great potential, and (provided the Mariners are patient enough to see Olson work through his struggles), I think they have a solid No. 4 option ahead of them.

But they need to nip things in the bud.

First of all, Garrett Olson is effective because he throws strikes. His BB/9 percentage has been higher, but then so have his strike outs. As I mentioned before, Olson is sitting at a K/9 of 5.28.

This tells me one of two things:

Either he isn't missing bats or he isn't throwing strikes.

We'll take a look at his contact percentage, which grades out at three percent above the league average (83.7 percent), which isn't great, but really is right in line with his career average of 83.3 percent, when he was producing 7-8 strikeouts a night.

This tells me he is inconsistently throwing strikes, and (according to his 12.5 HR/FB ratio) they are in bad locations.

But, that to me is weird.

Remember this guy was considered to have the best control in 2007 in the Orioles' farm system.

What happened?

If you like to read the post game remarks from Tacoma News Tribute, Seattle Times, or even Shannon Drayer's blog, you'll notice a recurring theme with Garrett Olson's  starts.

Rhythm, comfort, trying to get relaxed, too excited. Almost all outtings refer to him as really being unable to control his emotions on the mound.

Every level from low-A ball to AAA, he has shown the ability to perform and to perform above average. While he is never going to be better than a solid No. 4 pitcher, I believe he could very well be a very good pitcher once he gains that composure.

Garrett Olson's success is vitally important to this Mariners' team that looks to try and surge for a playoff spot, all while possibly dealing their No. 2 and 3 spot pitchers.

While the rotation currently isn't big enough for Olson, Jason Vargas, and Rowland-Smith, two more spots will open up and will place added pressure on this group to perform.

I believe Wakamatsu did the right thing in giving him another start in Detroit this week, regardless of the outcome. It gives Olson the feeling that his manager and organization are behind him, confidence that will hopefully produce success.

Thank you to the following websites that made the research easy!

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2007/262799.html

http://prospectinsider.com/view/garrett-olson-versus-rich-hill/

http://orioles.scout.com/2/622459.html

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9889&position=P

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