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Roy Oswalt

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Roy Edward Oswalt

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[edit] Biographical Information

Roy Oswalt won an Olympic gold medal for the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

He led the majors in 2006 with 20 sacrifice hits.

Oswalt began his career 22-1 against the Cincinnati Reds. As of August 2008 he had pitched 169.0 innings boasting a 2.56 ERA and striking out 145 batters. This ranked as the best winning percentage (minimum 20 wins) against one team, 3.6% ahead of Carl Mays (35-3 versus the Philadelphia Athletics). Oswalt was the first pitcher ever to begin his career by going 21-1 against another team. Three other pitchers began 20-1, but each then lost his 22nd decision: Charley Radbourn against the Phillies, and Larry Jackson and Juan Marichal both against the Mets.

Oswalt was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in mid-season 2010, and the following off-season the team added Cliff Lee, putting together a starting rotation that reminded observers of that of the great 1990s Atlanta Braves teams, as it included four All-Stars - Oswalt, Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. However, Oswalt proved to be the weak link in the group, being hampered by back problems in the first months of 2011. After a first stint on the disabled list, and an unsuccessful return, he went back to the DL on June 23rd expressing a pessimistic outlook, indicating he might well retire. He explained that the pain was caused by two degenerative disks and that pain-killing shots had not been of help. Things got better after that initial reaction, and by the end of July he was throwing without pain in bullpen sessions and could be sent to AAA Lehigh Valley for a rehabilitation assignment. He returned to the Phillies' rotation in early August and made 10 starts the rest of the way, ending the season with a record of 9-10, 3.69 in 23 games, pitching 139 innings. He pitched well enough down the stretch that manager Charlie Manuel chose to start him in Game 4 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals over rookie Vance Worley. However, with the Phils a win away from the NLCS, he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings and lost the game, 5-3; the Cardinals were on their way to a tremendous upset and an eventual World Championship.

Oswalt became a free agent after the season, but found that the market for his services was less than anticipated. Mindful of his previous season's health problems, he decided to sit out the first half of the 2012 season but remain in shape in case the right circumstances for him were to materialize later in the year. It was a path that had earlier been taken by superstar pitchers Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. On May 29, 2012, he accepted a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers for a guaranteed $5 million, with the hope of being back on a major league mound by the end of June. Ironically, the deal came on the day the Phillies placed their ace Roy Halladay on the disabled list, and suddenly became very interested in adding another experienced starter, but Oswalt had already made his choice. He returned to the majors with the Rangers on June 22nd. His return to the big leagues was a successful one as he pitched into the 7th inning in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies, making him a winner. He had some rougher moments in his next few starts, however, as he gave up 11 runs to the Chicago White Sox on July 3rd, and 8 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on July 30th. With his record at 3-2, 6.49, manager Ron Washington announced that he was being moved to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Ryan Dempster, acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the trading deadline. However, it was Dempster's turn to be roughed up in his first start as a Ranger on August 2nd, allowing 8 runs to the Angels; Oswalt pitched two scoreless innings of relief that day and inherited a win when his teammates' bats got going late in the game for a 15-9 win. However, it was clear that Oswalt was not happy with the change of role, as he refused to return to pitch a third inning after making 30 pitches in his next appearance, against the Kansas City Royals on August 5th, explaining "I'm not really a bullpen guy". Manager Ron Washington said he was fine with Oswalt's decision to leave the game, but it was clear that the situation was creating tension at a time when the Rangers' lead in the AL West was under assault by both the Angels and the Oakland A's. The soap opera continued on August 18th, when Oswalt was called on to make an emergency start in place of Dempster against the Toronto Blue Jays; he pitched well, giving up only one run, but with two outs in the 5th, Washington removed him from the game after only 62 pitches. He had a 2-1 lead at the time and was visibly upset at losing a shot at a win by a single out. He ended up making 17 appearances - 9 of them starts - for Texas, going 4-3, 5.80 and pitching 59 innings.

Oswalt became a free agent after the 2012 season and did not find a team immediately, waiting until May 2, 2013 to sign a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were suddenly interested after having started the season playing surprisingly well in spite of a patchy starting rotation. After spending some time in the minors, he made it back to the Show on June 20th, starting against the Washington Nationals. He allowed a two-run homer to Ian Desmond, but generally pitched well, striking out 11 over 5 innings, the second-most of his career; still he was charged with the Rockies' 5-1 loss. Colorado had managed to stay competitive in the meantime, as they were still playing .500 ball after the loss and were only 3 games out of first place in the tightly packed NL West. However, he was at 0-4, 7.64 after 4 starts when he was placed on the disabled list, after having left his start on July 7th with a strained left hamstring. He returned to the team in September to make two starts and three relief appearances to finish the year at 0-6 with a 8.63 ERA. A free agent after the season ended Oswalt announced his retirement on February 11, 2014. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019 as a first-time candidate with former teammates Lance Berkman, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2001 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 3-time NL All-Star (2005-2007)
  • 2005 NLCS MVP
  • NL ERA Leader (2006)
  • NL Wins Leader (2004)
  • NL Winning Percentage Leader (2001)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 5 (2002, 2004-2006 & 2008)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (2004 & 2005)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 7 (2002, 2004-2008 & 2010)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (2002 & 2004)

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