Everyone from the USA Today to Lyndy’s Sports is talking about Roy Oswalt and his debut tonight for the Rockies. Getting national attention for a team not on ESPN’s daily radar (read: Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers) is usually attributed to either playing against one of their pet teams, making some sort of amazing surge when you shouldn’t have (see ’07) or the “Great Comeback” of once renowned players looking to stay in the spotlight.
The Rockies saw the attention, and spotlight, last season with the “Great Jamie Moyer Project”. Taking on Moyer a year shy of his 50th birthday ultimately created more negative headlines for the Rockies (Giancarlo Stanton’s 462 foot HR that broke the fastest bat speed record for an HR as well as the outfield scoreboard) than anything positive press for the team.
Oswalt, another pitcher possibly sticking around past his prime, has seen his share of accolades. He was in the top six for six different Cy Young Award votes (sixth once, fifth once, fourth three times and third once), as well as a 20 game winner twice, 19 game winner once and his career win/loss record of 163-96 shows the Rockies are getting a guy that is comfortable playing to win. He also owns a 3.28 career average over his 12 seasons that span the Astros, Blue Jays, Philies and Rangers.
By all accounts tonight’s call-up and start against the National’s isn’t a courtesy bone thrown to Oswalt, who pitched in five starts with the Tulsa Drillers this season, notching a 2.16 ERA in the process. It seems like an actual effort to correct the pitching ship’s course that has found itself carelessly drifting towards the reef of mediocrity. The team has placed Chris Volstad on waivers to open a 40-man roster spot and Jeff Francis has accepted a minor league assignment to the Springs, which clears a spot on the 25-man.
Whether this move will prove successful, depends on your definition of success. Will the team jump on Oswalt’s back and ride him to the playoffs? Doubtful. But, knowing that a starting pitcher can really only influence a single game in five, there is something to be said for a team making a change for changes sake. Replacing mistrust in one starter for cautious optimism from another can’t hurt, especially when the starter being replaced was firmly in the “easy out” column. So, for a team that was just a 1/2 game out of first places last week, that is before running into the Toronto Sweeping Society disguised as the Blue Jay’s, bringing in Oswalt to take the ball tonight has all the makings of either a great move or wishful thinking. Whatever it is, we can bask in the glory of the national limelight for at least one night…in five.
FIRST PITCH: 5:05 pm
TV: Root | RADIO: Koa
WEATHER: 78° and Partly Cloudy
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