Olson, who helped patch the rotation early when Adam Loewen went down with an injury, worked to a 6-3 record and a 4.76 ERA in his first 12 starts, but has folded to a 2-5 record and a 9.12 ERA over his past 12. Trembley said Sunday that it's not anything physical, that Olson has what it takes to succeed in the Majors if only he gets out of his own way.
"This is a very smart guy, an engineering guy or something from Cal Poly," he said. "It looks like he's trying to fit it out there with angles and diagrams. He's overcomplicating the whole process. That's what it looks like. And I'm no genius about it, but gosh darn it I've seen a lot of guys pitch. I can tell the guys who make it look easy and I can tell the guys who make it look real hard. And Garrett's making it look way harder than it should be for a guy with the ability that he has.
"I'm not talking down on the kid, because I really like him. He ought to let up on himself is what he ought to do. He ought to take a deep breath, smell the roses and realize he's in the big leagues. It doesn't look like he enjoys it."
To be fair, it would look even worse if Olson appeared to be happy with his lot in life. The southpaw has allowed five earned runs or more in eight of his past 12 outings, throwing his rotation bid for next season into instant jeopardy. Trembley has said that the Orioles may eventually consider moving Olson to the bullpen, but right now they're basically at a loss.
"We've got to try and help him. I think he is fighting himself," Trembley said. "I think he is fighting himself to such an extreme that he's not allowing his abilities to come out. He's got to be putting such a tremendous amount of pressure on himself -- and for what reason, I don't know. We don't put any pressure on him. We keep sending him out there."
Olson was unavailable for comment Sunday, but Trembley made it clear that there's no problem with his work ethic. The left-hander works out hard and does all the requisite running that his position demands, and Trembley doesn't know how to account for the divide between his Triple-A performance and the initial returns from his big league audition.
Baltimore had the same questions regarding Olson last year, when he got hit hard in a brief September callup. And the Orioles responded by starting him off this year at Triple-A Norfolk. Olson may require the same light hand next spring, and Trembley said he's open to doing whatever it takes to coax out the pitcher's potential.
"He dominates in Triple-A, and he comes here and it's just the opposite," Trembley said. "He's still not used to pitching at this level. [Maybe] he needs some more seasoning, needs more experience, needs more exposure. It's like I said [Saturday] night: I don't really have a definitive answer, but we need to explore all possibilities and see if we can figure something out.
"He comes across as if everything's OK. He comes across as if he's got it all figured out. He comes across as if he feels good. I know what he says. He says the same things to you that he says to me. But then we see what he's doing."
Olson did say several of those things Saturday, professing to have good stuff despite poor results. The rookie recorded just two outs and allowed six earned runs, and afterwards he was asked if he felt like he was pitching for his job.
"You always are doing that," Olson said after his abbreviated start. "At the same time, you try not to put that kind of pressure on yourself. You're not trying to think this game is going to make or break you as a pitcher, that you can compete at this level. First and foremost, you've got to believe you belong and go about your business that way."
Trembley pushed Olson through a meeting with pitching coach Rick Kranitz on Sunday morning and expects to get him right back on the mound during next week's road trip. And when he looks at Olson, he can't help but think of Daniel Cabrera, another pitcher blessed with ability who has tried to find a comfort level for four seasons, and counting.
"I think he's holding back," Trembley said of Cabrera. "I think he's holding back to maybe improve some of the areas that have been a detriment to him -- control, walks, hit batters, wild pitches. I think it's worked counter-productive for him. I'd rather see him throw the ball halfway up the backstop than try to put it in a keyhole. That's the same thing I see with Olson."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.