Corey Oswalt has never been a top prospect or a world-beater, but he worked his way through the Mets’ minor league system and into a near-guarantee that he’ll see at least a spot start or two this year in Queens.
While the Mets made a point of building in significant depth at a number of positions, the rotation wasn’t one of them, and thus Oswalt finds himself somewhere around the team’s 7th through 9th starter, depending on how much you think Chris Flexen and Hector Santiago have been hurt by their rough springs. Oswalt has not been plagued by the same bug, though he has thrown just over five innings so far.
While he’s not the arm you want a few MRIs away from a regular starting role, Oswalt may not be the worst option in that depth chart. His 2018 was not inspiring, with his 5.85 ERA and 1.376 WHIP in the majors actually an improvement over some brutal PCL-enhanced numbers in Triple-A. But he has seen reasonable success at every level until running into trouble in Las Vegas and Queens last year and his overall line was skewed by a handful of rough relief outings. And at just 25 years old, there’s still reason to expect development going forward.
The former 7th round pick is a sizeable 6’5” and 250, but that doesn’t translate into overpowering stuff for the right-hander. He sits at the upper 80’s to low 90’s on his fastball with barely average complementary pitches to back it up, resulting in far too few strikeouts and far too many home runs at the major league level.
But Oswalt also had stretches where he strung together several decent games and it’s not hard to imagine him having a bit of a Dillon Gee look to him as he settles in. He needs to work deeper into games, though not moving back and forth between and bullpen and rotation should help with that, and he definitely needs to cut down on the long balls, but he projects as the kind of pitcher who can linger around for a few years and make those backup starts without embarrassing himself. The ultimate “every team needs one of these guys” guy.