UPDATE: No matter the reason(s) for Oswalt’s struggles, the Rangers have decided to demote him to the bullpen following their trade for Ryan Dempster. Last time Oswalt made more than one relief appearance in a season? As a 23-year-old rookie in 2001.
Roy Oswalt got lit up for three homers and a total of eight runs by the Angels last night, and afterward the 34-year-old right-hander told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas that his long layoff between starts was to blame.
Oswalt skipped his last turn in the rotation because of back soreness, so he went 12 days between starts, and his mechanics were out of whack:
I need to get a more consistent arm angle. Sometimes I’m down, sometimes I’m too far up. I can’t find that spot that felt great. Not getting to throw for 11 or 12 days, sometimes that happens.
On one hand prior to last night Oswalt had put together back-to-back solid starts. On the other hand he now has a 6.49 ERA and .333 opponents’ batting average in six starts overall, so if his mechanics are to blame for getting knocked around it isn’t something new.
And his struggles are among the reasons why the Rangers are linked to seemingly every veteran starter potentially on the trading block.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Reds, Nationals, and Braves have all expressed interest in free agent starter Aníbal Sánchez. While a clear frontrunner has yet to emerge, it stands to reason that the Braves would have some edge on their competitors as the right-hander’s most recent major-league affiliate.
Sánchez, 34, is hardly the 6.0-fWAR player of seasons (and Tigers rosters) past. Still, he experienced a minor resurgence with the Braves after a career-worst performance in 2017, and finished out his one-year contract with a 7-6 record in 24 starts and a respectable 2.83 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 through 136 2/3 innings out of the rotation and bullpen. Whether his numbers hold steady through 2019 and beyond remains to be seen, but the recent uptick in strikeouts and downward trend in home runs are encouraging signs of progress.
Of course, the veteran righty isn’t the only arm under consideration this winter, and Morosi points out that the Reds and Nationals are also currently invested in fellow free agent right-hander Mike Fiers, albeit to a lesser degree. Like Sánchez, Fiers orchestrated a comeback effort following a disappointing 2017 season, and enjoyed a collective 12-8 record and 3.56 ERA in back-to-back stints with the Tigers and Athletics. He’s drawn interest from the Giants and Rangers as well, though no one team is said to be leading the charge.