|Rangers Think Oswalt Could Be Postseason Difference||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 03, 2012
Yet sign he did, joining Nolan Ryan’s team for nearly $5 million. He’ll be taking over a spot in the rotation that simply didn’t exist a week ago. While the Rangers have been scouting and talking to Oswalt for a while now, it really wasn’t a move that made a lot of sense until Neftali Feliz went down with elbow inflammation, something that will require at least a month worth of rest.
Photo by Tony Fischer, used under creative commons license.
When Feliz returns, be it in one month or three, he’ll almost certainly find that his elbow won’t be taxed nearly as much since he’s far more likely to end up pitching one- or two-inning stints out of the bullpen than end up starting. At least that will be the case if Oswalt can stay off the disabled list himself.
That’s a major concern with Oswalt, who had two visits to the DL last year and has had a number of them in recent years. And among fans there is the perception that Oswalt has ‘lost something” in his delivery, making him less of a top pitcher.
In fact that might be true. Certainly there has been an increase in walks along with some negative movement in some pitching indicators. However Oswalt isn’t exactly a 40-year-old pitcher trying to bounce back. He’s only 34 just slightly past the prime years of a pitcher’s career.
In reality, the perceived something may really have been a bump in the road, as last year was one of the least effective of the 11 years he’s pitched in the majors. Still, health was the root of that, and after what amounts to a long, long offseason the Rangers may be getting a premier pitcher at a bargain price.
Best of all is that Oswalt won’t be asked to be the ace of the staff. The Rangers have Colby Lewis for that. He might not even be asked to be a No. 2 guy; after all Yu Darvish is the man there. And while Oswalt is probably better than Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, his only job will be to throw innings without getting lit up while the Rangers potent offense goes to work.
No doubt he’ll add to the Rangers during the regular season, but this was the team that was going to run away with the division in any case. It’s during the playoffs the Rangers hope that signing Oswalt will really pay off. After all they’ve been to the brink of a World Championship twice. This time they want the big payoff and Oswalt could be the missing piece that gets them over the top.