Roy Halladay received most of the attention last year because he threw a perfect game, a no-hitter in his first postseason start and won the NL Cy Young Award.
Cliff Lee stole the headlines when he shocked everyone by signing a $120 million, five year contract with the Phillies instead of taking more money from the New York Yankees.
Cole Hamels has the most outgoing personality in the group, and the only World Series ring among the four top starters.
Oswalt doesn’t care about the spotlight. In fact, he’s at his best when he shares it. The 33-year-old right-hander had consecutive 20-win seasons in 2004-05 with the Houston Astros when Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were his teammates.
“When Roger and Andy pitched with me, they got most of the media attention and most of the publicity and it was good,” Oswalt said. “They picked up the slack. Most of the questions here are gonna deal with Cliff and Doc winning the Cy Young, so let them handle it.”
Oswalt barely spoke during a news conference with the other members of the starting rotation last week. He answered two questions and only because both were addressed to him.
That doesn’t mean Oswalt is difficult. He’s certainly no Albert Belle. Oswalt is actually the most visible of the Fab Five starters. He sat at his locker every morning during the first week of spring training and did several one-on-one interviews, politely talking in his Mississippi drawl to anyone who approached him.
Coming to Philadelphia from Houston has rejuvenated Oswalt. The Astros were a going-nowhere team, and Oswalt wanted to be on a team with a chance to win a World Series. He didn’t get much run support with the Astros and was just 6-12 despite a 3.42 ERA before the trade last July.
Oswalt delivered, helping catapult the Phillies into first place. Down the stretch, Oswalt was even better than Halladay. The three-time All-Star was 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA with Philadelphia. Halladay was 9-2 during that span, but his ERA was more than a run higher at 2.94.
“Any time you are in the playoff hunt, you are gonna pitch better,” Oswalt said. “Being in Houston half the year, we were out of it by the All-Star break. You didn’t feel that sense of trying to get to something. You feel that you are just trying to get through the year. When you know you have a good enough team to win the whole thing, and we have a great chance to do that this year, you just try to do your part because everyone is going to do their part.”
“Those guys had a plan before they got to the field of what they were trying to do during the game,” he said. “Their preparation is probably the best thing I picked up from them. On the field, everyone pitches their own style. You don’t really get mechanics or anything like that from anybody on the field. But the preparation is probably the biggest thing from those guys.
“I come here and these guys do the same thing. First day I get here, I see Doc and Cole in the video room taking notes on different things they’re going to try to do in the game. I think good pitchers that are trying to get better, you try to do every little thing to win.”
Oswalt does whatever it takes to win, even if it means playing an unfamiliar position or taking on a different role. In late August, Oswalt was called upon to play left field in the 14th inning of a game against Houston after the Phillies ran out of position players.