ATLANTA -- Roy Oswalt never got to make his first postseason start. Ditto for Carlos Hernandez and Pedro Astacio. The trio of Houston pitchers who
figured so prominently in Houston's postseason's picture six weeks ago watched the three-game sweep by the Atlanta Braves in uniform but on the
|Oswalt couldn't pitch against the Braves because of a groin strain.
Hernandez and Astacio were out for the season because of injury and Oswalt
was penciled in to start a Game Four that never came.
"I felt like the absence of those players was more of a factor during the
season than in the postseason," Astros Manager Larry Dierker said. "The only
guy that pitched in place of one of thse guys was (Dave) Mlicki, and he held
them to one run. So I don't know that Astacio, Hernandez or Oswalt could have
done better in Game 2 than to allow one run. I don't know anybody that
could have done better in Game 1 than (Wade) Miller did."
Dierker believes the loss of those three might have been felt had the
series continued and the Astros advanced to the next round.
"Had the series continued or really probably more so had we won the
series, gotten into the second series where you have to use four pitchers,
then we probably would have felt the absence of those pitchers. But the
absence of those pitchers was more difficult for us during the season than it
was during the playoffs."
The Astros have to decide whether they will pick up the option on
Astacio's 2002 contract. Hernandez and Oswalt are both expected to be part of
the Houston rotation next season.
"Those two guys are going to be around a long time," Dierker said.
"They're going to get a chance some day if they stay healthy and keep
pitching they way they have so far."
Oswalt, who had been sidelined because of a groin strain, was disappointed
he wasn't able to contribute more.
"I wanted to be out there helping the team and was hoping to get out there
(Saturday)," he said. "I'm disappointed, we all are. No one wanted the season
to end this way."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com