Oswalt at his best as trade deadline approaches

Based on the way he’s pitched in the first half of the season, Roy Oswalt’s trade value has never been higher. Sure, if the Astros are going to trade Oswalt there are other things that will play into it, such as the amount of money he’s owed, his desire to pick where he wants to go and the prospects the Astros will get in return.

But when you talk about the way he’s performed on the mound, he’s been terrific.

Oswalt threw his second career one-hit shutout by beating the Pirates on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep. It was his 19th career complete game and seventh shutout, and was the first Astros’ one-hitter since 2008 (Wandy Rodriguez).

Oswalt made 18 starts in the first half of the season and went 6-10 with a 3.08 ERA, and 15 of those were quality starts. He entered Thursday with the third-lowest run support in the league, which is why he’s 6-10 instead of 10-6 and going to the All-Star Game.

Oswalt said this is the best first half he’s had in the last few years.

“I feel like it is,” he said. “I had a pretty good year in ’05 at the beginning of the season, but overall the last three or four years it’s probably the best I’ve felt.”

There were numerous scouts on hand to watch Oswalt, including those from the Phillies, Twins, Dodgers, Mets and Rays, all of which could be potential trade targets. Oswalt has asked the Astros to trade him to a contender, and non-waiver deadline is three weeks away (July 31).

“That’s the business part of it,” Oswalt said. “The best part of it is when you step across the white lines you don’t have to worry about it. You go out thre and play the game and give 100 percent and that’s all you can ask for yourself.”

What should help to drive up Oswalt’s trade value even more is how well he’s pitched in second halves in his career. He’s 73-58 in the first half in his career, and 70-22 in the second half. Oswalt is scheduled to open the second half of the season July 16 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Could it be one of his his last with the Astros?

Brian McTaggart

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