The last time Corey Oswalt took the mound, he limited the San Diego Padres to two earned on three hits in five innings pitched.
At 62 pitches, he could have gone deeper in to the game, but Mickey Callaway opted to lift him for a pinch hitter as the Mets were down 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, and they had a rally brewing.
The decision worked for Oswalt and the Mets, as the four run rally would not only put the Mets ahead, but it would also result in Oswalt getting his first Major League win.
While it was his first win, it had been part of a good stretch from the 24 year old who is the reigning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.
Since he was called up on June 29, he made four starts, including the aforementioned start against the Padres, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA and 0.850 WHIP.
In those four starts, he limited opposing batters to a .162/.240/.279 batting line. Looking over these starts, you would say the one downside was he averaged only five innings per start.
To that end, it seemed as if the Mets were bringing along Oswalt much like they did with Steven Matz earlier this season.
While it gets lost in Matz’s recent run of 10 starts where he is averaging nearly 6.1 innings per start, Callaway and Dave Eiland had initially eased Matz to this point to begin the season. In fact, until the end of May, Matz was averaging under five innings in his 10 starts.
It would have been interesting to see if the Mets were following a similar path with Oswalt than they were with Matz, whether that path for either pitcher was purposeful or not. However, we are not going to get that chance. At least not yet.
With respect to Oswalt’s previous start against the Padres, that was on Wednesday, July 25. After a four game set over the weekend against the Pirates, today should have been Oswalt’s next start. It won’t be.
Coincidentally, Oswalt will not get that chance because Matz will take the mound tonight against the Braves. However, it’s another left-handed pitcher who truly stands in Oswalt’s way.
Oswalt was sent down so the Mets could re-insert Jason Vargas into the rotation. The Mets opted to do this with Vargas coming off the disabled list. So far this season, Vargas is 2-6 with an 8.36 ERA and 1.786 WHIP while averaging just over 4.0 innings per start.
Ultimately, this is who the Mets are opting to start over a pitcher John Sickels of SB Nation named a “Sleeper Prospect” entering this season noting, “velocity has picked up into low-90s with some sink, complete arsenal of secondaries with curve and change keeping hitters off-stride; impressive command and good mound presence, should be up later this year.”
Sickels is far from the only one who has noticed Oswalt’s improvement. Entering this season, Baseball America said of Oswalt, “His mid-80s split-changeup helps him neutralize lefthanders, while his 12-to-6 curveball with low-80s velocity has developed into a weapon. Oswalt doesn’t draw many plus grades, but he does enough things well to reach the majors in a No. 4 or 5 starter role . . . .”
Considering how Oswalt was viewed as a back-end starter, how he has so far performed, and that Vargas is the other option, Oswalt should have remained in the rotation. He is a young pitcher with upside, and this is exactly the type of pitcher the Mets should be giving a look look in a season where they are 15 games under .500 and in last place in the National League East.