Monday Rockpile: Why is Roy Oswalt still here?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Roy Oswalt, Matt Belisle, and the road Rockies all struggle to find success.

Yesterday, Roy Oswalt pitched in relief giving up five runs on four hits in three innings and was the main reason the Rockies lost the game.  What's interesting here is the Rockies willingness to take innings away from a young starter like Chad Bettis who is still grabbing his bearings at the major league level and giving them to a 36 year old who hasn't pitched well since 2011.

Despite a strong strikeout to walk ratio, Oswalt's stuff appears extremely hittable.  I'm not sure what the Rockies see here, but I also don't think they would be starting him in relief this late in a season currently designed towards building for 2014 if they hadn't of crossed him off the list of 2014 possibilities yet.

So why haven't they closed the book yet?  Well, in addition to Oswalt's strong peripheral stats, his fastball was clocked at 94 MPH back in June.  If I was trying to make a case for Oswalt, I could do it in 11 words.  Lots of strikeouts, few walks, good track record, still has velocity.

But for some reason, I just don't have this warm and fuzzy feeling that Oswalt is going to rebound, at least not in a huge way.  His fastball can still light up a radar gun, but unfortunately, it also has become one of the most hittable pitches anyone is throwing in the major leagues.  I saw him pitch against the Red Sox in person when the Rockies visited Boston earlier this summer, and it was one of the stranger outings I've seen.  You have a guy one the mound who still has some gas left, he knows how to find the strike zone and not walk people, and he can generate several swings and misses.  However, when guys do make contact, they shell him, and this isn't a "bad luck / every ball in play just happened to find a hole" type of shelling either.  These are line drives sprayed all over the place.

To be fair, I actually don't think Oswalt was quite as bad as his line indicated yesterday, and I always like the idea of more pitching depth, but at this point, the situation smells like a guy who the league has finally caught up to.  If Roy Oswalt is good enough to be in the Rockies rotation next spring, then the Rockies rotation is likely in trouble.

* * * * * *

It's been a tough season for Matt Belisle, but this article by Thomas Harding tells us that the big righty believes the pressing issue for him right now is familiarity, and not fatigue.

As a fan, it's extra tough to watch Belisle struggle.  He's everything you could ask for in a competitor.  Over the last four years, he's made 76,74, 80, and 65 (and counting) appearances out of the Colorado bullpen; and yet he never complains, never makes excuses, and jumps into whatever role is necessary to help the team win.

Belisle is the overlooked gem on the roster, he's also exactly the type of guy who is easy to root for.  We all hope he can turn things around going forward, but at the same time, I also hope the front office is considering back end of the bullpen insurance in 2014 to take some pressure off this arm.  Belisle's ERA has swelled higher and higher each of the last three seasons, and while he's still solid, he's not the shutdown guy we saw in 2010.

One important thing to note though is Belisle's OBP against this season is just .304, a number that's actually lower than it was in either 2011 or 2012, so he's still getting guys out, he's just not spoiling late inning rallies with the same consistency we saw in previous seasons.

* * * * * *

The sweep in San Diego over the weekend drops the Rockies road record to a dreadful 25-47 and all but ensures that they will lose at least 50 games on the road for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

This is something the Rockies have to figure out.  When Colorado made the playoffs in 2007 and 2009, the formula was stay near .500 on the road and clean up at home.  When the Rockies lose 50 or more on the road like they've been doing recently, it means they have to play at least .617 baseball at home (a mark that would put a team on a 100 win pace if extrapolated out to a full season) just to get back to .500.  There's simply no way to be successful using that formula, and it explains why they are playing another forgettable September despite being ten games north of .500 at home.

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