Pirates Welcome Back Ross Ohlendorf

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It’s been a tough season for the smartest man in baseball, but after four months his picture is up on Pirates.com as a starter again.  A shoulder strain has caused him to make only three appearances for the big league club this season. 

For many months, it appeared that Ohlendorf wouldn’t have a spot in the Pirates rotation even if he was healthy.  Oh, how times have changed.  The Pirates have starters Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia on the shelf now leaving the door open for the Princeton grad to show his stuff again.

Ohlendorf struggled mightily after signing an arbitration deal this offseason.  He was flat in Bradenton and pitched 8.2 innings before being shutdown.  He has allowed eleven hits with six strikeouts.  His ERA of 7.27 is nothing like his performance of last season that lead to the payday. 

His AAA numbers aren’t exactly eye popping which causes some to wonder if this start is more necessity than anything.  At Indianapolis, he threw 24.1 innings and allowed 22 hits, nine earned runs, two homers, eight walks, and 12 strikeouts. 

Manager Clint Hurdle didn’t sound to rousing in his comments yesterday regarding Ohlendorf either, which also gives us some concern.  (Perhaps if we can scare ourselves into thinking Ohlendorf will get shelled, he actually will pitch well–see Brad Lincoln last night)

In 2010, despite a poor win total, Ohlendorf pitched well enough to give his club opportunitites for much more.  In 2011, he hasn’t done much more than workout and get back into shape in an attempt to pitch at the major league level again.  

Ohlendorf against the Brewers scares the hell out of us, it’s simply a tough team to face in the first start back after such a long time in the gym.  Adding to the pain is that Ross will battle with rookie Marco ‘Erik’ Estrada. 

Marco Estrada has baffled Pirates hitters in 2011

 The right hander has been primarily a bullpen guy for the club, but has somehow managed to throw nine scoreless innings against the Bucs this year.  

The lack of success against Estrada must change, and we think it will.  We’re just not sure what to expect from Ohlendorf, other than maybe some sweating and a button popping off the jersey again.  That’s usually a given.

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