There was a great deal of interest in Roy Oswalt's 2013 debut.
Well, it was certainly interesting.
The 35-year-old made his first start of the season for the Rockies against the Nationals in Washington, D.C. on Thursday with mixed results. The bad? Oswalt allowed four runs on nine hits, including a home run, and took the loss. The good? Of the 15 outs he recorded, 11 were via the strikeout.
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The right-hander relied heavily on his fastball, which was reported to be hitting 94 on the radar gun. In his previous two seasons his fastball sat between 91 and 92, according to FanGraphs. The heater accounted for 10 of his 11 punchouts, with eight of those 11 batters going down swinging.
He made a believer out of Adam LaRoche.
"I tell you what, Roy looked as good tonight as he did 10 years ago in the playoffs when I faced him," LaRoche told the Denver Post. "He had some really good stuff."
It's easy to overreact -- in a variety of ways -- to one start, but there are a few conclusions on the mat that we can safely jump to. The first is that Oswalt is, at least at this moment, healthy. Even if he loses a few ticks on the velocity shown in his first start, a fastball in the low 90s is still good enough to get major league hitters out.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Oswalt will likely take his lumps. He struggled to a 5.80 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 59 innings with the Rangers last season, and he's now going to be starting half his games in Coors Field. There's no reason to believe being another year older and now in a hitter's park will prove beneficial for Oswalt.
The last and most important thing we can glean from Thursday's start, though, is that he can still be a useful fantasy player. You don't strike out 11 major league hitters by accident, and his line was marred by a bit of bad luck as well. He might be best used in situations where he's pitching on the road, but even that is subject to change depending on how he fares in the Mile High City.
In deeper mixed leagues, Oswalt is a potential add that's, well...interesting.
It appears it's on to Option C for the closer role in Boston.
After Joel Hanrahan went down with a season-ending elbow injury, the Red Sox turned to former A's closer Andrew Bailey. Now, after blowing a second consecutive save opportunity, Bailey is out as the team's closer as well.
Bailey's struggles started on June 10, when he blew a save against the Rays in a game the Red Sox ended up winning. Including that game, Bailey has allowed four home runs in his last five appearances. The walk-off home run by Jhonny Peralta on Thursday, a two-run shot with nobody out, sealed Bailey's fate.
As to who will replace him, the decision likely comes down to Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Tazawa was given preference when Bailey missed time earlier this season, but he failed to impress in the role. Uehara, meanwhile, served as the setup man in Thursday's game and has struck out 42 batters in 30 innings this year.
Red Sox manager John Farrell played it close to the vest after Thursday's game, but if the team goes with the best reliever it should be Uehara at the top of the list.
Two pitchers left their starts on Thursday due to injury.
Jon Niese exited his start against the Braves after 3 1/3 innings due to left shoulder discomfort. A shoulder issue slowed Niese last month as well, and generally shoulder injuries don't bode well for pitchers. It would be a shock if the issue didn't require another DL stint for the left-hander.
Later, Chad Gaudin left a start against the Marlins after 4 1/3 innings due to being hit on his pitching arm by a line drive. Unlike Niese, Gaudin will likely escape with a contusion and nothing more. It's still frustrating for the 30-year-old, as his impressive turn in the Giants rotation has been one of the bigger surprises of June.
We should have more information on both pitchers in the coming days.
National League Quick Hits: Angel Pagan (hamstring) had to be carted off the field during a rehab game at High-A San Jose on Thursday. Hamstring surgery could be in his future ... Dodgers manager Don Mattingly stated his hope that Matt Kemp (hamstring) could begin a rehab assignment early next week. Kemp still needs to run the bases before being cleared to begin an assignment, though ... X-rays on Dexter Fowler's right ring finger came back negative. The outfielder may still need a few more days -- and possibly even a trip to the disabled list -- to get it healed ... Jedd Gyorko (groin) is expected back next week. He's first eligible to be activated on Tuesday ... Gyorko's teammate Carlos Quentin missed his sixth straight start with a sore left shoulder. It's likely he'll either return to the lineup or land on the DL in the next few days ... Brandon Crawford (fingers) missed his second straight start Thursday. The shortstop sprained the index and middle fingers on his right hand during Tuesday's game ... Scott Van Slyke (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment on Friday. His teammate Carl Crawford (hamstring) still isn't close to going on one, according to Mattingly.
American League Quick Hits: Alex Rodriguez (hip) is making good progress in his recovery. There's some speculation he could begin a rehab assignment shortly after the All-Star break ... Martin Perez will take Josh Lindblom's spot in the Rangers rotation. His first start will come Saturday against the Cardinals ... J.A. Happ (head, knee) is aiming for a return to the Blue Jays rotation around the All-Star break. The head seems to be ahead of the knee at this point in the recovery ... Mike Carp (hamstring) has been cleared to play. When healthy, Carp has a .324/.379/.686 line this year ... Curtis Granderson had the pin removed from his fractured left pinkie finger on Thursday. The next step is resuming light workouts in hopes of being ready shortly after the All-Star break ... Carlos Pena came through with a three-run walk-off homer to beat the Brewers. The homer was his eighth this year ... Kelly Shoppach was released by the Mariners after being designated for assignment last week.
There was a great deal of interest in Roy Oswalt's 2013 debut.