Who the heck is Chris O’Grady?


The Miami Marlins recently waved the white flag on pitcher Jeff Locke. In a corresponding move, they called up lefty Chris O’Grady. Wait, who?

Who the heck is Chris O’Grady? He’s the Miami Marlins newest starting rotation experiment, that’s who! O’Grady, tabbed to start for Miami on Saturday will be making his first ever Major League start. At 27-years old, it’s been a long time wading through minor league competition to get here.

This is only the first season O’Grady is part of the Miami Marlins organization. After being selected in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound lefty struggled to advance through the Los Angeles Angels system for five seasons.

He received his walking papers at the beginning of the year before catching on with Miami. Now, he’ll be hurling a baseball at the highest level for the Miami Marlins.

O’Grady might not be the long-term solution the Miami Marlins are so desperately looking for in their rotation. But if he is able to provide performance that is better than that of Jeff Locke, it’ll be a big boost for the Fish.

Locke was terrible in every start he made for the Marlins beyond his first one. After starting his Miami Marlins career throwing 5.2 innings and allowing only one run, he never managed to give Miami a chance to win again. After allowing 11 earned runs in 2.2 innings against the Cardinals, the Marlins had seen enough.

That cleared the way for O’Grady, who has been throwing with a hot-hand in the minor leagues. After starting his Marlins career in the bullpen, O’Grady eventually found his way into the starting rotation. In his last five starts, he’s logged an average game score of 64.

Chris O’Grady: Mr. Right-Now

It’s no secret that the Miami Marlins are short on pitchers. After their initial plan of “bullpenning” the season on the mound fell apart, the rotation was found wanting. Edinson Volquez’s arrival on the disabled list was the last piece of the puzzle. For O’grady, it has to feel something like kismet.

He’s taken full advantage. His recent performance in the minor leagues made the Miami Marlins decision-makers comfortable enough to roll the dice on him in the Major Leagues. To what does he attribute success his success on the mound? The emergence of a third pitch.

In a piece published by Tim Healy of the Sun-Sentinal, O’Grady talks about his new-found changeup being the major difference in his success.

"“I’ve been trying since I was 18 years old to throw a changeup, and I’ve never been able to,” O’Grady said. “About a month ago, he was working with me on a new grip and it clicked. I think that really helped a lot.”"

For years, the organization has sent of parts they believed couldn’t work out in the Major Leagues, only to find them become dominant elsewhere. The most recent example being Andrew Miller.

Aren’t the Marlins due for something like that to break their way? Is this the first night in one of baseballs best “overcoming adversity” stories? Maybe we’re just desperate for something to go right this season.

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Only time will tell, but our first look at O’Grady will come tonight at 10:05 pm on the west coast. The San Francisco Giants aren’t the powerhouse we’ve grown accustomed to watching, and O’Grady will have a chance to succeed.