Who Are These Guys? Antonio Osuna

Esteban Loaiza (L) hopes Osuna will save some W's

Antonio Osuna could be a critical link in what success that Nationals may have in 2005. He could pick up the nickname "Stretch" because he'll often be coming in to pitch the seventh inning to get to closers Ayala and Cordero.

Antonio Osuna's Vitals

Right-handed relief pitcher, 32, 5-11, 160. Bats right. Career 36-29, 21 saves, 3.50 ERA in 10 seasons. Has also played for the Dodger, White Sox, Yankees and Padres.

Quick Take

A solid career set up man, he must be doing something right if he can keep doing it for 10 seasons.

Osuna Rundown

The Nationals signed Osuna for a paltry $800,000 and may have gotten a pretty good deal for the under appreciated role of set up reliever. He has a fastball that checks in at over 90 MPH, he has good command of his slider and his changeup can get batters lunging.

He enjoyed one of his best seasons last year in the pitcher's paradise known as San Diego's Petco Park, posting a 2.45 ERA in 31 appearances. In 37 innings he averaged one strikeout and a little less than one hit per inning. RFK isn't expected to be quite as hostile to batters as Petco, but it's still likely to favor the defense and that will help Osuna, who is a flyball pitcher (he appeared in 48 games for the Yankees in '03 and didn't induce a single ground-ball double play).

One would think that he would be brought in to face right-handed batters, but he's had some success vs. lefties as well. In the past three years, righties have a .255 average against him, lefties .258. Of the seven home runs he's given up in that time period, just one has been by a lefty. He does walk the left-handers more, issuing 40 free passes to them compared to 19 for righties.

One oddity in looking at Osuna's numbers is that he seems to be the king of garbage time. In the past two seasons, he has finished 22 games and has zero saves. That means that he's either finished games that his team lost or that his team was winning by a side margin. With the exception of 2002, when the White Sox made him the closer for part of the season and he finished 28 games with 11 saves, this has been the pattern throughout his career as he has 10 saves with 111 games finished.

In one respect, Osuna will feel right at home in the clubhouse. Like so many Expos, he spent a good chunk of 2004 on the disabled list. Comparing MRI's with his new teammates could be a great icebreaker for Osuna.

Osuna was signed to a one-year deal, but he might be worth keeping around for a while. He seems like one of those guys who can be very effective given a well-defined role, like coming in to start the seventh or eighth inning and getting a few batters out, regardless of which side of the plate they bat from.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: 2-5 W-L, 3.90 ERA, 16 HR
Upside: 7-4 W-L, 2.75 ERA

To find Antonio Osuna's career stats on Baseball-Reference.com, go to http://www.baseball-reference.com/o/osunaan01.shtml

To find previous player profiles in the "Who Are These Guys?" series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at CapitolDugout.com and search for "Nationals".

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