Prospect Report: Andy Oliver adjusts to closer role

For nearly his entire career, the only thing keeping Andy Oliver from being a successful Major League pitcher is control. This struggle continued early this season, as he walked 10 hitters in his first eight game, including five in his first two appearances.

After starting the season in relief, Oliver has finally settled into a role that has treated him well as of late. Since moving into the closer role on May 29, Oliver has seen a drastic improvement in command, except for one outing.

“Andy has been doing the job pretty much the whole year,” Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer said. “Just lately, he has really ratcheted it up. He has really been a force out there. It seems like there have been more strikes and quality strikes. He’s getting ahead and doing the things that he needs to do.”

In his appearance on June 21, Oliver walked three hitters and allowed a hit and a run. Outside of this game, Oliver has only walked two hitters since May 19. In the June 21 game, Oliver managed to throw only nine of his 26 pitches for strikes.

Oliver has worked 14 innings during this stretch. In that time, he struck out 18 hitters, while allowing just six hits and five walks. The June 21 outing was also the first run that Oliver allowed since May 19.

For the season, Oliver has a 2.08 ERA, and a 53:25 K/BB ratio in 39 innings. Hitters have managed only a .156 average against Oliver for the campaign.

Filer said that there is nothing mechanically that Oliver has been working on to achieve the recent success. He credits Oliver’s success to sense of confidence and an edge in the role.

“I think that it’s just a level of confidence that he has right now,” Filer said. “He is feeling good about himself. He works at his trade every day, just like the rest of these guys who are working hard. He is really believing in himself.”

Ryan Palencer

Author: Ryan Palencer

Ryan joined Pirates Prospects as the Indianapolis Triple-A writer in 2014. Prior to joining Pirates Prospects, Ryan covered high school, college and professional sports in the Indianapolis area. For more updates throughout the season, follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpalencer.

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  • R Edwards

    Bring him up and DFA Gomez

    • Lee Young

      While I am not the biggest Jeanmar fan, he does have his merits. And, I would like to see Oliver throw the ball over the plate more than for just a couple of months. One wild lefty, Wilson, is enough for me at the moment.

      He will be a nice Sept call-up if he keeps on this trajectory.

      • R Edwards

        As long as Gomez never pitches in a game when its on the line – I just do not have much faith in him.

  • Ron Loreski

    If Oliver can keep his control, it makes Justin Wilson a nice trade piece. Obviously the Pirates think highly of Oliver, as he’s been kept him in the organization despite his control problems.