"ARMED" COLONIAL INVADES NEW YORK
[May 3rd] -- It's stories like this that make 67 win seasons enjoyable. Mike O'Connor, a George Washington product, fresh off of a solid year at class 'A' Potomac, gets called up to start a couple of games for the big club because, frankly, there was no one else available. In 18 innings with New Orleans, O'Connor had a 2.41 ERA with 20 strike outs. Pretty good numbers, but remember, he had never played above class 'A' until this April.
His first start, against the Cardinals was typical of a talented and nervous rookie. In five innings, he gave up only three hits and no earned runs (a Ryan Zimmerman error allowed Jim Edmonds to hit a home run) while taking the loss. Monday night, against the Mets, he did even better. O'Connor pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out six. Take a look at his combined numbers from his first two starts: IP: 12 -- ER: 1 -- H: 5 -- BB: 6 -- K: 8. That works out to an outstanding 0.75 ERA. He evened his record to 1-1. The lefty doesn't have a lot of "gidde-yap" on his fast ball, but his off-speed stuff has more moves than a teenage boy.
O'Connor isn't exactly some "kid" who just came on to the scene. He will be 26 in August and is beginning his fourth year with the team. Although he has just twenty innings at triple-A, and could certainly use more seasoning, he doesn't want to be a 27 year old rookie next spring trying to make the club with no experience. It's obvious that the Nationals are going nowhere this year, so why not let O'Connor learn on-the-job at the major league level while getting advice from the likes of Livan Hernandez and John Patterson. I doubt it will happen, though, because it makes too much sense.
Marlon Byrd continues to show that he has the ability to again be a top-notch leadoff hitter (as he was with the Phillies his rookie year). Byrd got three more hits Monday and raised his average to .308. He has a .446 OBP and a .442 SLG average. Though I doubt this would ever happen, I think the Nationals would be a better team at the moment with Byrd in cener and Ryan Church in right. I don't know if Jose Guillen is being distracted by a wrist that still ails him, or a shoulder that is still sore, or perhaps he's pouting about not getting his 5 year, $50 million dollar contract. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the first player-personnel moves made by Stan Kasten would be to trade one of the outfield troika of Guillen, Church and Byrd.
Alfonso Soriano and Damian Jackson both hit long home runs to help O'Connor to his first major league win. Jackson's was long, and Soriano's was looooooong.
Should we worry about Chad "The Lad" Cordero? For the fourth time this year, Cordero has given up a homerun in a relief appearance. Those kind of mistakes aren't terribly noticable when there is a 6-1 lead like tonight, but it stings when he's trying to protect a one-run lead. I guess I shouldn't complain though, as that tater ended a streak of thirteen consecutive batters retired by the Californian. Overall though, it seems that none of last year's bullpen stalwarts are able to reprise their starring roles. Too many innings last year? Too much luck last year? I'm not sure, but it's certainly becoming a concern.
I'm happy that the Nationals won, but I'm so pleased for young Mr. O'Connor. The team is in desperate need of a left-handed starter, and they just might have found one.
It's up to him to do it now.
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