It was just announced that Sunday’s scheduled starter Matt Harrison will be pushed back for extra rest and that Roy Oswalt will start in his place.
This probably the first decision made by the Rangers that looks at preparing for the playoffs as opposed to winning games now. Maybe this means other regulars will start getting more rest and we may actually see some new faces in the starting lineups.
Oswalt has been pitching better of late and I would think that this is because he is finally rid of the rust that comes from not facing Major League hitters for half a season. Sure, he was training on his own and pitched some games in the minor leagues first, but nothing could prepare you for stepping in to the middle of a season. Even in Spring Training, you are facing Major Leaguers who are also starting their preparation. Stepping into the middle of the season is a recipe for failure not even considering it was his first action in the American League.
I think it’s pretty certain that Oswalt will not be a part of the Rangers playoff rotation, but if he pitches well down the stretch, he will be a key cog to the bullpen.
As for Harrison, hopefully this is just a precaution and doesn’t end up being worse news. He has been the Rangers most consistent starter this season but has lost each of his last two starts and maybe a sign that the fatigue is setting in. Giving him extra rest shows that the focus is on the Rangers best coming for the playoffs.
If you have (at least) six major league starters, you may as well use them all.