Scouting Roy Oswalt

Posted by Corey Seidman, Fri, July 30, 2010 03:11 PM | Comments: 18

I project Comcast SportsNet’s scouting report to look like this tonight:

  • Exceptional command, strikeout stuff
  • 92-94 mph fastball, low-70s curve
  • Workhorse!!!

While CSN has mercifully gotten away from the third-line exclamation points in recent weeks, their scouting reports leave a bit to be desired. So, without further ado, let’s get to know Roy Oswalt on the field and off…

Holmes Community College

Ah, the prestigious HCC. Located in Goodman, Mississippi, I’d imagine this is the equivalent of a player for Bucks County Community College being drafted.

Oswalt was drafted and followed by the Astros in 1995, after his freshman season. The team offered him $50,000 to sign, but he took a chance and decided to return to school. Oswalt’s tough decision paid immediate dividends, as he proceeded to grow two inches, put on fifteen pounds, and pick up three miles per hour of life on his fastball.

That $50,000 signing bonus turned into $500,000 the next year, when Houston selected him in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft.

Five Years Later

On May 6, 2001, a sub-six foot-righthander from Weir, Mississippi made his major league debut in Montreal. He pitched one inning in relief, giving up two hits and a run, and striking out one batter named Vladimir Guerrero.

Aside from Oswalt and Guerrero, only six players remain from his debut: Julio Lugo, Lance Berkman, Octavio Dotel, Geoff Blum, Milton Bradley, and Guillermo Mota. Phillies minor leaguer Andy Tracy batted third for the Expos.

Eight days later, Oswalt picked up the first win of his career in Cincinnati, a place he would dominate for the next decade.

Oswalt was dynamite in his rookie season, going 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA, and compiling 144 strikeouts against 24 walks in 141 innings. He finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting to some guy nobody ever heard from again, Albert Pujols.

Success Becomes Mediocrity

In Oswalt’s first five seasons as an Astro, the team was 445-365, a .549 winning percentage. They made the playoffs three times in that span, getting swept out of the 2001 NLDS by the Braves, losing in seven games to the Cardinals in the classic 2004 NLCS, and losing four in a row to the White Sox in the 2005 World Series.

From that point, everything went downhill for the ‘Stros.

Houston is 357-391 since the 2005 World Series, and has finished in the bottom half of the NL Central standings more often than not.

According to his agent, Bob Garber, as well as ESPN writer and idol, Jayson Stark, Oswalt was just bored. He was bored with mediocrity, bored with half-filled stadiums and two-thirds worth of meaningless games. There’s no adrenaline in that, even for a major leaguer facing top competition.


Oswalt makes his Phillies debut tonight against the Nationals in DC. What will we see from him?

  • Oswalt throws a 92-94 mph fastball that he used almost 70% of the time from 2001-08, but that dropped to 60% last year and 55% so far this year
  • His curveball, widely regarded as one of the game’s best, is his out-pitch. The twenty mile per hour drop between his fastball and curve, combined with huge break, buckles knees with regularity.
  • Oswalt also features a mid-80s slider and a low-80s changeup.
  • Just by looking at the degrees to which he changes speeds, you can see why Oswalt has had so much success – it is very hard to sit on anything when you have to be ready for mid-70s, mid-80s, and mid-90s.

Oswalt is a strike-throwing machine, and, this season, he has had command of his best swing-and-miss stuff since the first three years of his career. From 2005-to-2009, batters made contact with roughly 82% of Oswalt’s pitches. This year, it’s down to 79%. His swinging strike rate of 9.5% is the highest it has been since 2004.

As for the dimensions of Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt should fit in fine. You cannot forget that Minute Maid Park in Houston is one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in all of baseball. We’re not talking about a PETCO-to-CBP change of scenery, here.

Oswalt has career ground ball-fly ball-line drive percentage splits of 47-32-21. In the last two years, his groundball numbers have dropped four percentage points while being substituted with flyballs, but home runs have never really been a problem. Oswalt’s career high in home runs allowed is 23 (2008), and his 0.8 homers allowed per nine innings since ’01 is right on par with Roy Halladay’s 0.7-per-nine in that same span.

In Oswalt, the Phillies have found a strike thrower and a quality innings-eater with swing and miss stuff that would be the ace on thirteen National League teams.

Tonight should be fun.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 branderson

    lol at the Bucks reference.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H

    as long as he stays healthy (and that is a big if) than this could go down as one of the greatest trades in Philly sports history.

  • Posts: 0 NickFromGermantown

    I can’t wait for tonight. This is going to be exciting!

  • Posts: 0 "PHILLYBOY"

    We have ROY FREAKING OSWALT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GO PHILLIES!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    i want to watch this game real bad, but am heading out to Casona with the wife and another couple. Time for the DVR.

    How about them Rangers going all in. Lee, Cantu and now Guzman.

  • Posts: 0 Dennis

    This should be fun! Dom Brown in the lineup tonight?

  • Posts: 0 D

    Welcome to the team Oz!

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Rangers vs Phils WS would be very interesting.
    Hello Cliff Lee. Just saying that would be fun.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Think about it. Phils only 2.5 back in the East 1.5 in the WC. They pick up Oswalt, Brown and get Utley back in about 4 weeks. I’m geredy though. I want another LH relief pitcher.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe


    The way the Rangers are going all in that might no be too far fetched.

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Positive and excellent scouting report from Corey Seidman. Very detail oriented and fun to read.

  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Andrew from Waldorf & psujoe; do you think that the Rangers are strong enough to take the Yankees in the AL playoffs? I can see them beating the Twins but the Yankees…I do not know about that. Am not familiar with the Texas pitching.

  • Posts: 0 Greg

    Odd, I can no longer read the comments on my phone. Anyone else having this problem?

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    The yankees look unstoppable on paper every year. et since 2001 they have only won 1 title. I personaly dont see them in the series this year. I like Texas and the other AL east team. Boston or Tampa.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Texas has a really good pen and with Lee a good starting rotation.
    Josh Hamilton is very much for real. The Rangers are for real. Its very hard to win your first time in the playoffs. See 2007 Phillies swept by the Rockies. But the Rangers are a legit team.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phillies Buzz, Corey Seidman. Corey Seidman said: Just posted to @PhilliesNation: background info on Roy #2 on-and-off the field…"Scouting Roy Oswalt" – http://tinyurl.com/299vcjo [...]

  • Posts: 0 repeat

    we all know cholly has spent time in japan and can hold a decent conversation speaking the native language. so it’s no surprise that he’ll serve as Roy Oswalt’s official translator.

  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    Corey, good summary overall, but you are forgetting his success…Or therefore lack of against the NL East (Mets, Braves and Nationals in particular). Prior to tonight, he HAD an ERA of about 7.49 I believe against those teams, AFTER tonight, its probably closer to 9.

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