|Roy Oswalt was better than his line showed in his debut.|
The Rockies lost to the Washington Nationals 5-1 in Roy Oswalt's Rockies debut.
With the anticipation of Oswalt, many will look at his line and point to him being a bust. The problem is, his line didn't tell the whole story of how he pitched. He went five innings and gave up four runs on nine hits. He struck out 11 and walked none.
The four runs and just five innings isn't great. However, focus more on the last part of that line. Oswalt struck out 11 without walking a single batter. The concern was whether or not he would have his velocity. He was living around 93 MPH, with the ability to get a little higher than that, and his command was phenomenal, walking none.
Oswalt threw 101 pitches, 70 of which were strikes. Pounding the strike zone is the key to any pitchers success. With Oswalt still showing the ability to get the velocity that he needs to, he should only get better the more he pitches.
Is Oswalt going to be the answer? That question can't be answered after one game. One thing he showed was that he will be far better than the alternatives. Sure, his line looked similar to the guy that he replaced, Jeff Francis, and similar to Juan Nicasio, but there is no doubt that he had a better chance than those guys have when they take the mound.
It will be fair to judge Oswalt after four starts. If he is consistently going just five innings and giving up four runs each time out, the experiment is a failure. However, based on the command and velocity that the right hander showed on Thursday, he will be significantly better than that.
The problem with debating how much of an impact Oswalt will have is that if the Rockies continue to play the way that they have over the past four games, and frankly, over the past 14 games, the impact that Oswalt has will matter very little.
This is a team that finds itself back at .500 for the first time since the second day of the season. This is a team that has faced good pitching, but has done nothing to show how good they are at the plate. They have taken bad at-bats. They have failed to get anything going. On top of all of their struggles, when they do hit the ball hard, it always seems to find someone's glove.
The Rockies must turn it around quickly. They cannot afford to dig a hole so deep that they are constantly playing from behind both in the standings and in each game individually. The offense is sputtering on the road and the pitching that was good enough to win games in April and May has dissolved. The regression was inevitable from the rotation, but when the offense can't get anything going, it couldn't have come at a worse time.
The Rockies aren't done. Frankly, the National League West is anyone's to win or lose. However, at some point someone has to step up and go on a run. The Rockies have the firepower offensively, and with three pitchers who have the talent to keep them in games, they should be able to win plenty of baseball games.
To win though, they must avoid their annual summer east coast debacle that has become almost a tradition for the Rockies. They must find ways to win when they aren't hitting on all cylinders. They have to find ways to win games that they don't deserve to win. Good teams find ways to win games. The Rockies must become a good team.
It isn't over yet. It won't be over even if they continue to struggle, but the Rockies don't want to put themselves in a position where they are constantly chasing. They need to be in a position where someone is chasing them.
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