Apparently the White Sox wanted two more innings eaten by Will Ohman before they swore him off for good.
After he filled in the final two innings of Wednesday’s blowout win to rather poor effect, Ohman outpaced an expected team announcement on his roster status by reporting that he was gone and giving his farewells to his teammates.
The White Sox did the pleasure of confirming that he would be designated for assignment, and thus put on waivers with the intention to release.
Ohman’s 6.41 ERA and cratering strikeout rate made him a prime candidate to be released, but to actually carry it out in late-June shows an impressive willingness on the part of the Sox to cut bait and eat around $1.25 million for the sake of better performance.
Not to stoke further irrational Ohman hatred, but it’s natural to look at the batting line of .182/.250/.283 lefties had against him going into Wednesday’s game and conclude that he was being misused. He was pretty blatantly known as a LOOGY when he came on, and that’s not a good descriptor for the role he plays now.
However, there’s a difference between ‘he’s a lefty specialist’, and ‘every right-hander against him becomes Adam Jones’. That’s not an idle comparison either. Going into Wednesday, righties against Will Ohman and Adam Jones in 2012 have the same wOBA (.384).
Next, Will Ohman had faced 60 lefties and 41 righties on the season going into his last game with the Sox. Try to find the major league LOOGY getting better than a 60-40 distribution. Troy Patton of Baltimore faces 56% lefties, Boone Logan of the Yankees is at 56%, Darren Oliver–career LOOGY–is at 51%.
Andrew Miller of Boston is at 63%. Hisanori Takahashi of Los Angeles-Anaheim is at 62%.
Either Ohman is worth coddling more than any other pitcher in the American League, or can be salvaged by tilting his usage just a few more percentage points toward lefties.
Both are pretty unlikely. Ohman is only striking out 11.7% of the lefties he faces (going into Wednesday) this year. 2009 was the only season of his career that figure was under 24%, and that was the year he spent most of his time on the DL with a shoulder problem. He’s remained successful against lefties, but it’s largely been reliant on batted-ball luck, and unlikely to last.
Ohman performance has been undeniably poor, and the one skill he’s clinging to is unsustainable. There could easily–and hopefully–be a team that scoops him up, but there is no criticizing the decision to cut ties with him. This is at best the #2 lefty on the roster, and he’s not up to snuff.