The Detroit Tigers have acquired RHP Reese Olson from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for LHP Daniel Norris. pic.twitter.com/IJxw1jfINA— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 30, 2021
Olson, 21, was Milwaukee’s 13th-round pick in the 2018 draft. He’s currently pitching in High-A ball and is not ranked among the team’s top 30 prospects on Baseball America or MLB Pipeline.
This season, Olson has a 4.30 ERA and 1.348 WHIP while striking out 79 batters in 69 innings. Walks -- 4.6 per nine innings -- have been his main issue.
The most attractive part of Olson’s profile is his 16% swinging strike rate. He can clearly miss bats at a high level, and that means he has some potential to develop in the Tigers’ system.
In his most recent five starts, Olson has posted a 3.16 ERA and held opponents to a .512 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). He has 24 strikeouts, 12 walks and 15 hits allowed over 25.2 innings in that span.
Four of those five starts went at least five innings with two or fewer runs allowed.
Norris, 28, is a free agent at the end of the season, so it made sense for the Tigers to move him if an offer was made. The left-handed reliever owns a 5.89 ERA this season, but his 3.78 FIP (fielding-independent pitching) suggests he’s been better than the numbers show.
Norris was acquired six years ago to this date from the Blue Jays in a move that sent David Price to Toronto for Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt. At the time, Norris was one of the top 20 prospects in baseball, but that talent never actually materialized.
He fizzled out as a true starter midway through 2019 and reinvented himself as a very strong opener at the end of the season. In his final eight starts -- each of which went exactly three innings -- he allowed just six runs in 24 innings while striking out 23 batters.
In 2020, Norris was one of the team’s top relief pitchers, posting a 3.25 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.157 WHIP and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Why were the Brewers interested in him this season? Well, in 10 outings this month, Norris has allowed three runs in 8.1 innings (3.24 ERA), with six total base runners and nine strikeouts.