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Friday, September 12, 2008

The "Roy Oswalt Situation"

I, like many of you, drafted Roy Oswalt semi-early in my fantasy draft this year (we're in a five player keeper league, so technically I drafted him at the end of the 6th Round)... and he was absolutely putrid for me.

I want to take a look at Oswalt's Pre-All Star Break numbers compared to his Post-All Star Break numbers just to indicate how unbelievably he's been pitching lately:

Pre: 7-8 (sub .500), 4.56 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

Post: 8-1, 1.94 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

It took 4 looooooong months, but Oswalt is finally acting like the ace of the Astros pitching staff and I am loving it!

However, though I am jumping for joy over this turn-around, I'm also wondering 'why?'  What exactly made Roy Oswalt, who many experts deemed 'done' at the beginning of the season, turn his entire game around?

A part of you has to think that it's mental.  Think about the Houston organization:  this is a team that is notorious for extraordinary second half play.  It seems like every year Houston makes a random deal at the trade deadline at clicks for the rest of the season as it chases the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers.  This season, the Astros currently chase the Phillies and Brewers for the Wild Card (Houston is 3.0 games back of the Brew Crew as of post-time).

With this known, let's look back to last year; a season when Oswalt showed the experts signs that we has slowing down:

6-2, 2.57 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

Is that absolutely putrid?  I didn't think so... I mean... Oswalt didn't win very many games, but that's also a byproduct of the Asros themselves not winning very many games.  You give Oswalt the command that delivered a 2.57 ERA for the second half of 2007, and he'll win more than 10 games in the second half of 2008... that's all but guaranteed.

But this isn't really enough for me... his double-play balls are about the same, his walks are going to be about the same, but the hits are what's causing his WHIP rate to be so low.  

What does this mean?  

Well, to me (and I know a lot of people are going to hate this), Oswalt may just be hiding the ball better right now.  Maybe Brad Ausmus is calling a better game.  Perhaps he's throwing more change-ups than rotator cuff tearing/groin straining fast balls.

Essentially what I'm saying here is:  the change might be something that sabermetrics can't measure.  This "Roy Oswalt Situation" could be that he made a mechanical change in his pitching during the All Star Break and has been cruising ever since.

Either way... I'm just happy he's figured this out, because he's picked the perfect time to start acting like the ace of a fantasy rotation.

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