Texas Rangers: 6 Things We Learned from Roy Oswalt's First Rangers Start
It's safe to say Roy Oswalt's first start as a Texas Ranger was a success. He picked up the victory Friday after pitching 6.2 innings of one run ball.
Oswalt hadn't pitched in a big league game in over seven months. It was interesting to see how effective he could still be at age 34 with such a long layover between starts. So far, so good.
Here are some things we learned from his start.
Loves to Pitch Against Colorado
Not that he will be getting a lot of starts against the Rockies this season, but Oswalt still shut them down like he has in years past.
The 34-year-old pitched his entire career in the National League before joining the Rangers. It’s a little ironic that his debut came against a team from the league he dominated for so long.
Oswalt's gem improved his record to 9-2 with a sub-2.00 ERA lifetime against Colorado.
Pounds the Strike Zone
Oswalt was very sharp on Friday. He walked only one and rarely fell behind hitters all night.
Of the 110 pitches he threw, 81 were strikes. He trusted his stuff and the talented fielders playing behind him.
He gave up nine hits, but that is probably the result of pounding the strike zone and having the ball put in play. Despite the hits, the Rockies didn’t really have a serious threat all night.
This is most likely the type of start the Rangers envisioned when they signed Oswalt. Throw strikes and keep the team in the game long enough to give them a chance to win.
Still Knows How to Miss Bats
Oswalt has struck out at least 180 batters in a season four times in his career. Even though he's past his prime, his stuff on Friday still showed his ability to miss bats.
He fanned six batters in just under seven innings. This total could have been a bit higher with the number of batters against whom he had 0-2 counts.
Oswalt had good life on his fastball and mixed in his offspeed pitches very well. When he runs in to some jams the rest of this season, it should be comforting for the Rangers to know he can still get a big strikeout when he needs it.
Gives the Rotation a Boost
Oswalt was signed to be a consistent, veteran arm in the rotation, not to be the ace of the staff. His value to the team has only increased with the number of players the Rangers have lost to injury lately.
For a team chasing a third straight pennant, Oswalt brings a number of intangibles that should be valued highly. He has experience as the anchor of a staff and has pitched in the postseason several times before.
Ron Washington and his staff must be a lot more comfortable with Oswalt on the hill from now on instead of rushing more young players from the Minors to make spot starts.
Extra Rest Will Be a Big Benefit
Oswalt pitched like a player who was rested and ready to go. He missed Spring Training and the first two months of season before signing with Texas.
He pitched himself into shape in the minors and should get stronger his next start as well. For a guy who had some back issues, the extra rest looks like it is paying dividends.
Oswalt worked quickly and threw a lot of pitches, and might have pitched in to the 8th inning had he not given up a couple of hits to players when he was ahead in the count.
The grind of the season will still be tough, but Texas shouldn’t have to worry about Oswalt running on fumes during the stretch run.
Will Love Pitching for Texas
Oswalt’s debut was in front of yet another sellout crowd in Arlington. The Rangers are currently second in baseball in fan attendance.
The team he is playing for isn’t too bad either. Texas has one of the more complete teams in baseball.
Most nights, Oswalt will not have to worry about pitching deep in to games for fear that his lead won‘t be protected. Texas' combo of Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan has proved very capable of getting the final nine outs.
He also won’t carry the burden of pitching for an offensively challenged team. When the batters are all clicking, it is very difficult to keep Texas from scoring runs. The competitor in Oswalt will still want to put up zeros every inning, but that’s not something he will be forced to do to win games.