While the Rockies blew a big lead against the Philadelphia Phillies Friday night, Roy Oswalt pitched in what will be his final outing in the minor leagues before getting a shot with the big league club. Things went well (per Tracy Ringolsby):
Oswalt final tuneup tonight 8 1/3 IP 5 R zero rubs 1 walk 7 Ks 102 pitches 60 strikes. 3-2 2.16 5 starts Tulsa
— Tracy Ringolsby (@ROOTSPORTS_TR) June 15, 2013
It is actually inevitable that we will see Oswalt pitch in a Rockies uniform this week. As Ringolsby also points out, Oswalt can opt out of his contract if he is not promoted now. Given his recent string of success pitching for the Drillers, there is simply no way the Rockies would let that happen.
In total here are Oswalt’s numbers with AA Tulsa: 5 GS, 3-2 record, 2.16 ERA, 25 K’s and 7 BB. He did also surrender 5 home runs in those outings, but on balance things are looking up.
Appropriate expectations will be crucial as we look ahead to Oswalt’s debut with the Colorado Rockies. They simply need him to be reliable and consistent as a veteran pitcher who has been there before. As Patrick Saunders wrote in the Denver Post on Thursday:
But does Oswalt realize how important he could be to the Rockies’ chances to win the wide-open National League West? Does he realize the Rockies desperately need a gutsy, hard-nosed pitcher who can provide six or seven quality innings every time he takes the hill?
Therein lies appropriate expectations for a 35-year-old pitcher who was a disaster for the Texas Rangers last season. Will Oswalt be a staff ace? Of course not. Will he dominate like he did in years past? Nope. Will he be an upgrade over a raw Juan Nicasio and a fringe-guy like Jeff Francis? He certainly can be, and that is his importance to the team, not to be some #1 starter who puts the team on his shoulders every time he pitches.
I think some people are rolling their eyes at Rockies’ fans for being excited about Oswalt. At least that is the sense I get, not to attack a straw man or woman. But if that were the case, it would be warranted if we actually expected him to be an ace again. As long as expectations are realistic for a team that actually has a reasonable chance to stay relevant, Oswalt will be a key figure for this team when he arrives next week.