Despite poor ERA, Roy Oswalt's Rockies debut a success

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Roy Oswalt's Rockies' debut had both good and bad.
Roy Oswalt's Colorado debut had both good and bad. (USATSI)

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Roy Oswalt made his Colorado Rockies debut Thursday night against the Nationals in Washington. It would be easy to spin the outing as a failure.

Oswalt exited after just five innings in which he allowed nine hits and four earned runs. As with just about everything in baseball, however, the numbers don't tell the whole story.

First of all, the Nationals' run in the fourth inning came via an infield single. There's very little a pitcher can do to prevent that. Secondly, Adam LaRoche's two-RBI triple in the fifth inning came when center fielder Tyler Colvin appeared to misjudge the ball. If Dexter Fowler were healthy and in the game, that ball would have been in his hip pocket.

That leaves only the Ian Desmond home run, which was obviously Oswalt's fault.

Still, one glaring mistake in five innings isn't horrible -- especially in the first start of the year for a 35-year-old.

And we haven't even mentioned the best parts of the outing. First of all, Oswalt was hitting 94 on the radar gun with his fastball. Secondly, it had enough life to sit down the Nationals on strikes 11 times.

Yes, Oswalt recorded 11 strikeouts in just five innings. And he walked zero.

This was only the sixth time in Oswalt's stellar career that he struck out at least 11 hitters (via Baseball-Reference.com's play index). He hadn't acheived the feat since 2005. It was only the third time in his career he struck out at least 11 without issuing a single walk, and the other two outings were at least seven innings.

Oswalt's days as a frontline starter are in the rearview mirror permanently. Father Time never loses, even if sometimes it takes a while. In the case of the Rockies, though, they are looking for someone to put together respectable innings from the back of the rotation. If Oswalt pitches like he did Thursday, things will work out well more often than not.

So while seeing a 7.20 ERA and 1.80 WHIP on Oswalt's stat line through one start is far from ideal, the Rockies have reason to be optimistic after this outing -- especially since they only signed Oswalt to a minor-league contract.

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