Roy Oswalt impresses in Rangers’ debut

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Roy Oswalt was a little shaky in his recent minor league tuneup starts, posting a 5.87 ERA over 15 1/3 innings between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, but he rendered any concerns meaningless last night.

Oswalt was very impressive in his Rangers’ debut, allowing just one run over 6 1/3 innings as part of a 4-1 victory over the Rockies. It was his first start in a major league game since Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cardinals last year. The 34-year-old right-hander scattered nine hits while striking out six and walking just one. He didn’t allow a run until his 110th and final pitch of the evening via an RBI double by Marco Scutaro in the top of the seventh inning.

According to Brooks Baseball, Oswalt’s fastball topped out at 93.1 mph and averaged 91.5 mph, which was nearly identical to his average velocity last season with the Phillies. However, that’s still a tick below his career average of 92.9 mph. It will be interesting to see how Oswalt fares in his first go-around in the American League, especially coming off a season where he posted his lowest strikeout and swinging strike rate of his career, but he should be a stabilizing force for a rotation which has already battled numerous injuries and features a rookie pitcher, Yu Darvish, who is trying to find his way in his first season stateside.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.