I have talked and listened to a lot of baseball people ever since Roy Oswalt’s name became associated with the Rangers and there were both people who wanted his addition and people who didn’t. And, given how the rotation started the season, it seemed like there really wasn’t a need. They had added Yu Darvish, had Neftali Feliz move to a starting role and already had Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison who were all off to good starts.
Then, they started to struggle. Then, Feliz got injured. There was suddenly a need for another starting pitcher. And, in a stunning turn of events, Oswalt was finally ready to sign. Fate.
There are several reasons Oswalt had Texas on his list. He knows Nolan Ryan, his best professional seasons game as a member of the Houston Astros. Texas is the team most likely to make the postseason right now. He would be close to home. It was really a perfect fit for Oswalt.
What can Texas realistically expect from the pitcher? Well, paying him $5 million with another $1 million in incentives, they don’t need much for it to be worth it in a matter of dollars and cents. First of all, Oswalt missed action three times last season with lower back injuries. Taking the year off, you might expect him to be a little more healthy. There is word that he will not be a Ranger for three or four weeks so he will definitely not be rushing into action. What that means is that Oswalt is not a move to replace Neftali Feliz – he is scheduled to be back by the time Oswalt comes back. What this means is that Feliz may be going back to the bullpen. it doesn’t hurt to have depth in the starting rotation, especially when you have expectations of a long playoff run.
Baseball Prospectus sees Oswalt with a 3.36 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 137 innings. However, that is based on the National League. You should expect a boost on those numbers based on the American League and based on The Ballpark in Arlington. Other projections like ZiPs and Marcel see him a little higher at around 3.50-3.70 in the ERA department and a 1.2-1.25 WHIP. Basically, a reliable starter that is pretty good. And, $5 million isn’t too much to pay for pretty good. You could do worse.
In fact, the most debatable part of this signing isn’t the money or the move but what it means for the rotation and more specifically for Neftali Feliz’s career path. But that is a thought for another day. (Like, say, tomorrow perhaps.)