BALTIMORE -- The ability to settle into a left-handed specialist role has done wonders for Rockies reliever Josh Outman.
Outman, who turns 29 on Sept. 14, shifted from starter to the bullpen early last season. But he didn't find his niche until manager Walt Weiss began gearing his role toward innings in which left-handers are predominant. In his last 23 appearances heading into Sunday, lefty batters were 8-for-35 (.229) with two doubles, and Outman had a 2.37 ERA. His last nine games, covering 7 1/3 innings, were scoreless.
"I've been fully immersed in this the whole season, but as of late I've really had a defined role," Outman said. "That's one of the things that's helped me the most. This is what I'm responsible for. This is where I'm expected to go in and help the team. Knowing that, I can mentally prepare for hitters, situations and scenarios."
Outman, a Phillies 10th-round pick in 2005, started 25 of his first 33 Major League appearances with the Athletics from '08-11 and made seven starts in 27 appearances with the Rockies last year. Committed to the bullpen, he is 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA in 44 games this season.
"The arm is pretty special as a left-hander," Weiss said. "He's got a good changeup for right-handers. With Josh, it was a matter of commanding the ball. He's always had the big arm, but you don't see the big misses that you saw in the past.
"If he's around the plate, a left-hander that throws 95 [mph] that can spin the ball, too, and miss left-handers' bats with his slider, those guys stick around a long time in this game."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.