The Wonderful Wizard of Os

The Texas Rangers have the best record in MLB at 43-27 and currently have a five game lead in the AL West over the Angels. And tonight, they add veteran starting pitcher Roy Oswalt to the mix.

The addition of Oswalt to the starting rotation strengthens the Rangers’ pitching depth that has been battered by injuries to Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara. Despite these injuries, the Rangers have won six in a row and nine out of their last ten.

 

Oswalt has not made a start in the major leagues since Game 4 of the NL division series on October 5 last season for the Phillies. He made four starts in the Rangers’ minor league system, posting a 5.87 ERA, but don’t put too much stock in that. Minor league starts are all about building up your arm strength, getting your velocity up to where it needs to be and working the rust off. Oswalt is an 11-year veteran; he knows how to pitch.

Oswalt also knows what the postseason is like. He has made 13 appearances (11 starts) in the playoffs during his career posting a 5-2 record with a 3.73 ERA. The Rangers of course are in pursuit of their third consecutive AL pennant and Oswalt’s veteran presence sure can’t hurt.

The Rangers probably couldn’t have picked a better night for Oswalt to make his Rangers’ debut. The Colorado Rockies have lost 12 out of their last 14 and are 5-13 in the month of June. Not to mention Oswalt is 8-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 12 starts against the Rockies in his career.

But the question is: what can we really expect out of Roy Oswalt during the rest of the 2012 season? Yes, he’s 34. Yes, he’s had a history of back problems. But don’t count me as someone who is overly concerned. Oswalt is a proven winner with World Series experience, and let’s not kid ourselves, he’s not expected to be the Rangers’ #1 starter. Heck, he’s not even expected to be the #2 or #3. Oswalt was brought here to solidify the back end of the rotation. He’s expected to be an innings eater that keeps the Rangers in games, and I believe he can do that.

Let’s be real. The Rangers, sans Oswalt, were probably good enough to win the World Series this season. It’s not like signing Oswalt is a huge gamble. They didn’t give him a ton of money over a lot of years.  The Rangers still have Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland, once he returns from injury. Not to mention, Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando are also capable of being in the rotation or utilized out of the bullpen when they get healthy.

Oswalt’s southern accent and veteran leadership will surely fit in well inside the clubhouse. And if he can pitch anything like he did earlier in his career, the best team in baseball just got even better.

Ben Wertz is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at  Ben.Wertz@shutdowninning.com  or reach him on Twitter @RangersExaminer
Ben Wertz

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