The Pitcher You Know

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few days about Roy Oswalt, a 34-year-old RHP and former All Star, who the Rangers may or may not be targeting. Steve and Philip both wrote about the possibility of bringing Oswalt to Texas and what that might mean for the rotation going forward.

Both of them came to the conclusion that, if Oswalt were signed, it might leave Colby Lewis as the odd man out.

My counter argument is as follows…

In 2010, Lewis pitched 201 innings, while posting a 3.72 ERA and striking out 196 batters. Those are very solid numbers, but he suffered from a lack of run support and lost more games than he won.

Last year he scuffled a bit. His ERA jumped to 4.40 and he only struck out 169. He gave up 35 HRs in only 32 starts, which is not a good thing. As the season wore on, there were reports of a mysterious hip injury that may have affected his overall performance. Despite the health issues, he still pitched over 200 innings and managed to come alive in the playoffs.

As we all know, the postseason is where Lewis truly shines. He has made 8 postseason starts since returning from Japan and his numbers speak for themselves (2.34 ERA with 44 SO in 50 innings).

In 2010 and 2011, Lewis was at least as good as Cliff Lee in October. He is a big game pitcher. He’s even keeled. He doesn’t get rattled. Some people want Oswalt for his veteran presence.

If that’s all you’re looking for, I think you’ve got that in Lewis.

If you still want to bring in Oswalt, you’ve got 3 options, none of which are ideal –

  1. Move Harrison or Holland to the ‘Pen
    The Rangers have already committed to Darvish and Feliz in the rotation. If Lewis stays and you add Oswalt, then one of the lefties is the odd man out.
    Of course, that leaves you with 4 RHPs in the rotation, which gives Ron Washington less opportunity to mix and match as the season wears on.
  2. Move Lewis to the ‘Pen
    If Lewis were in his early-20s it might be a sensible move, but his fastball doesn’t feature nearly the zip that it did a decade ago and his skill set is better suited for rotation duty.
    If you are going to move somebody, Harrison is the best candidate considering his fastball velocity (mid-90s) and tendency to induce groundball double plays.
  3. Trade Lewis or Harrison
    Trading away Harrison (who is only 26) to make room for Oswalt (who is 34) makes little to no sense. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    For Lewis, I doubt that much could be found for him on the open market. There’s a lot more value in keeping him in the rotation and letting him eat up 200+ innings.

As for Oswalt specifically, I worry about this health. He is 2 years older than Lewis and has pitched over 2100 innings in his career. He struggled with back problems last season, only managing to pitch 139 innings.

More than anything, I worry that Oswalt is just a name. He was a good pitcher for almost a decade, but he isn’t 26 anymore. Stocking up on pitching is never a bad thing, but at this point the team features 5 solid starters with Ogando and a healthy Feldman available to step in down the stretch.

It just doesn’t make sense to me to add another SP where it isn’t one of the team’s few weaknesses. Right now the focus should be on finding a left-handed reliever or utility infielder.

Press on, Rangers fans.

(You can find me on Twitter @BleacherSeatsTX.)

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Tags: Colby Lewis Roy Oswalt Texas Rangers

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