Does Roy Oswalt Have Enough Left to Be Rockies' NL West X-Factor?
Official that Oswalt will start Thursday— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) June 18, 2013
After breezing through the minor leagues in his rehab starts, Oswalt is on his way up, according to NBC Sports.
Oswalt made five starts in the minors, throwing 33 innings with a 2.16 ERA and 25/7 K/BB ratio at Double-A, where he was just named the Texas League pitcher of the week. He held opponents to a .211 batting average, but did serve up five homers in five starts.
Oswalt’s most recent outing was 8.1 innings of shutout ball Friday with seven strikeouts versus one walk.
Oswalt will face the Washington Nationals in his first start this year, a team that he has gone 4-4 against with a 3.33 ERA in the last three years.
The timing for Oswalt's return couldn't have been more perfect. He is coming back at a time when the Rockies need him most, as they are half a game back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West and are trying to make a push as they head toward the All-Star Break.
Oswalt could play a vital role for the team as it enters a very important part of the season. The Rockies' pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.44 this year, which isn't terrible but it isn't great.
The three-time All-Star can help Colorado in a few ways as it tries to climb up the standings.
First and foremost, Oswalt can win games.
He is just two years removed of his surge in Philly, when he posted an ERA of just 1.74 in 10 starts after being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.
However, in the last two years Oswalt has dealt with injuries and age. After starting at least 30 games for seven straight seasons from 2004 to 2010, he started 23 in 2011, and just nine in 2012. His stuff was poor in those games too, as his ERA ballooned to 3.69 in 2011 and 5.80 in 2012, not to mention his 1.34 and 1.53 WHIPs, respectively.
At 35 years old, Oswalt is finally back, but he might not be everything the Rockies hope he will be.
Even if Oswalt can't come out and shut hitters down, his most valuable asset is his experience and knowledge.
Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com recently wrote an article about why Oswalt is a great fit for the Rockies, citing his experience in the big leagues.
Oswalt, who has earned $96 million in 12 big league seasons, knows about success. He reached double figures in wins in nine of his first 10 full seasons. He has a 163-96 big league record.
He pitched in the postseason with Houston in 2004 and '05, and with Philadelphia in 2010 and '11. He'd like to add a fifth postseason to his resume in 2013 with Colorado, returning to an NL team after his first AL exposure a year ago.
Oswalt has been around the block a few times, and he has knowledge that the Rockies' pitchers just don't have.
While Jorge De La Rosa and Jeff Francis are 32 years old and have been in the majors for a while, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Tyler Chatwood are 25, 26 and 23 years old, respectively. These guys haven't been around all that long, and they could definitely benefit from being around a knowledgeable veteran.
The biggest question surrounding Oswalt's return is whether or not he has enough talent and knowledge to help lead the Rockies to the postseason, but it doesn't look good.
We can't expect much out of Oswalt on the mound.
While he dominated Double-A ball, the opponents he faced in Tulsa are a far cry from those in the major leagues, and he will be pitching half of his games in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
The biggest reason why Oswalt won't be enough is the offense.
Led by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies' offense had been on fire and was carrying the team.
However, Tulo went down with a broken rib and Carlos Gonzalez was hit by a foul ball, taking out both stars in one foul swoop.
While CarGo is back and playing well, Tulo will be out for 4-6 weeks.
With the Arizona Diamondbacks overachieving and the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants hanging around, the west is one of the tightest divisions in baseball, and losing Tulo for this long is essentially a death sentence.
Oswalt will be a nice addition for the Rockies, but don't expect to see them playing in mid-October.
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