The Phillies will look to win the first two games of a series for the second series in a row tonight against the Astros.
Roy Oswalt throws tonight for Houston. Oswalt used to stir fear in hitters across the National League, but that's not the case this year.
Oswalt has become more and more hittable during the last few seasons.
During the last three seasons, his strikeouts are down and the number of hits and walks he's allowed has increased.
In 2004, he struck out 206 batters in 237 innings. The next year, he struck out 22 fewer batters in four more innings. That trend has continued through 2007.
Oswalt also used to be a control freak. His walks issued used to be astronomically low, but in 2007, he walked 22 more batters in eight less innings in 2006.
His WHIP typically averaged around 1.15 and in 2007 his WHIP was 1.33.
When a pitcher begins striking out fewer players, batters are going to put the ball in play more often, which naturally means more base hits.
One reason for Oswalt's slow demise comes from his very small stature. Oswalt is considered a power pitcher, but he's a mere 6-feet and 195 pounds.
His windup allows him to generate a lot of speed, but it can be very tiring over a long season.
Last year Oswalt struggled against the Phillies.
In two starts, he pitched 12 innings, gave up 17 hits, six walks, and 10 runs. His third start of the year came against the Phillies where he gave up six runs and six walks in five innings.
In 2008, the little right-hander has struggled once again.
He's been hammered in all three of his outings, but his walks are down and strikeouts up. He's 0-3 and has given up as many earned runs as innings pitched.
Since the Phillies are a fairly free swinging offense, Oswalt definitely has a solid chance to rebound tonight if he can get the Phillies chasing pitches.
If the Phillies can work Oswalt, it could be a very short outing once again for him, especially since the game is in Citizen's Bank Ball Park.
Roy Oswalt is still a very good pitcher, but is on the backside of his career at the age of 31.
If I had to guess what his overall numbers will end up, he'll probably have an ERA around 3.75 and a WHIP of 1.35.