Vargas and Olson
We’ve now seen both Olson and Vargas work a few innings in the big leagues, and their respective charts are above.
The fastballs are pretty similar – 89 MPH average velocity, topped out at 91. Both of these guys have below average heaters. Olson’s breaking ball is slower with quite a bit more vertical bend, while Vargas’ is more of a side-to-side slider. They both have a low-80s change.
Vargas pounded the strike zone quite a bit more than Olson did, though that could easily just be a function of the line-ups they were facing. Remember, Vargas was facing the worst offense in baseball and Giambi and Cust had already been removed from the game. Not exactly a scary bunch of hitters.
The interesting thing, to me, though, was how Vargas didn’t vary the height of his pitches much at all. Look at that strike zone plot. 41 pitches, and he missed low four times, while never missing high. He was off the plate on either side 12 times, but the vertical range of pitches was basically the strike zone for Vargas. He would move in and out, but not up and down.
Olson, on the other hand, was more than willing to miss the strike zone entirely. He was burying that breaking ball down and away from LH hitters, and then was more than willing to go up and away or down and in on RH bats with the fastball. Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well – he threw 18 pitches outside the strike zone to right-handed hitters, and all 18 were stared at for balls.
The breaking ball down and away to LH hitters was a good pitch for him – he got six strikes on pitches out of the strike zone down there. But against righties, they just waited for him to come in with the fastball. There wasn’t any real deception there.
To me, this is a pretty easy choice. Vargas to the rotation, Olson stays in the pen as a long reliever or left-on-left guy.