Pitcher preview: Alexi Ogando

Rick Yeatts

A question of velocity.

Rather than the previously declared Nick Tepesch, tonight's starter will be Alexi Ogando. Ogando has recently returned from the disabled list, and has pitched well in six relief innings to the tune of a 1.88 FIP/2.80 xFIP. He'll be limited to three or four innings, after which the game will be turned over to the Texas bullpen.

Frankly I've given up trying to understand Ogando. He's a three pitch pitcher, but there are plenty guys who can succeed that way (see: Alex Cobb, Matt Moore). This season he's struggled to the worst K/BB ratio of his career (16.5% K%, 9.5% BB%). Is that the result of a rough transition back to the rotation? His previous success as a starter in 2011 came before he had a book, before hitters had much film to study. Or is Ogando's decreased effectiveness wholly attributable to the arm troubles that landed him on the DL this season?

I really don't know. This preview is coming to you late today because I couldn't come up with anything interesting/intelligent to say, so I'm just going to describe what Ogando throws and leave it at that. Ogando has posted a wide right handed platoon split over his career, as would be expected from a pitcher heavily dependent on a slider.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

That's a pretty straight four-seam fastball. When it averages 97 mph, it blows hitters away. When it averages 93 mph? Not so much. Last year, Ogando's slider averaged 84 mph, this year only 80 mph. His changeup sits in the mid to high 80s (high 80s earlier on in his career, mid 80s in 2013).

If he's well again, and can empty the tank while he works his way one time through the order, Alexi Ogando could be trouble for the Rays. Without that velocity, though, he's not all that special. Look for the radar gun readings in his first few batters.

All statistics and velocity numbers from FanGraphs.

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