30 year old LOOGY, pitched poorly last year but fairly well in the role in 2006, very well in 2005. LOOGYing is a tough job, which doesn’t mean it’s not basically a stupid one. Most of the players you face in crucial situations are either outstanding lefthanded hitters or pinch-hitters, though the short benches caused by all the specialist relievers mean that managers can’t pinch-hit as often as they should.
Drafted out of Pepperdine by the Cubs in 1998, Ohman began his minor league career as a starter, like most pitchers who eventually reach the majors, but like most relievers he wasn’t any good, and was switched to the pen during his second season in pro ball. Meandered up the chain, showing good strikeout numbers and decent control matched with home run problems. (He really only had one good year in the minors, 2000 for AA Tennessee).
Ohman in his major league career (parts of five seasons; 2006 was the only year he didn’t spend at least partially in the minors, missed 2002-03 with an injury and spent all of 2004 in the minors) has 220 appearances, but only 160 innings. Last year, he had 56 appearances, 36 1/3 innings. That’s fundamentally ridiculous, but it’s what you’ll see from your basic lefty specialist. That is not how Bobby has generally used his relievers, who only now are starting to see their appearances outpace their innings.
Righthanders have hit a career .264/.366/.410 line against Ohman, which is really not that bad. Lefties have hit .196/.294/.319. Another symptom of LOOGYdom is that most of the runners who score off of Ohman are inherited, and most of the runs charged to him are scored when other relievers are on the mound. ERA can be misleading for extreme short relief. But last year righthanders hit .325/.381/.481, lefties .236/.329/.389, so he was clearly not as good. Most of that’s singles, but he wasn’t just unlucky, as his strikeouts were down. If he can get that back up over 9/9 IP, where it was in 2005-06, he’ll be fine. It’s still a stupid role.