In last night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies got knocked around quite a bit en route to a 12-2 loss. Nobody is really worried about dropping the series finale. After all, the Phillies, 47-29, have the best record in Major League Baseball. What does worry Philly fans is the status of Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt left last night's game after only two innings of work with lower back discomfort - an issue that Oswalt has had to deal with in recent years. In 2009 Oswalt was diagnosed with two degenerative discs and if you check his injury history you can see that this is not the first or second time that he has had issues with his back. Never a good trend obviously.
Around Philadelphia there is concern that this latest injury could threaten the career of Oswalt. Back injuries are going to be tough for any athlete - and even debilitating depending on the severity - but I would imagine that a starting pitcher has even less of a chance to grind through a back injury than players at several other positions.
The 33-year old right-hander doesn't seem too worried about the state of his career with this latest injury, but understands that it isn't forever. In one of his post-game statements, Oswalt simply said "You throw as long as you can throw and when you can't throw no more you can't throw no more." How nice it must be to so easily accept the things out of your control.
I'm not sure many people are quite ready to leap to the worst-case scenario. Not before more is known of the severity of Oswalt's latest back injury at least. Whatever the eventual diagnosis is, some of the treatment options may be limited. Oswalt does not seem too fond of receiving a cortisone shot, saying "You can only get so many shots. After you get so many of them, stuff starts breaking off. I don't want that to happen." Time will tell, but a lot of people in Philadelphia are holding their breath right now.
Speaking of Philadelphia and the Phillies' organization, losing Oswalt for an extended amount of time would certainly be a blow, but one a lot better handled when Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are still in the rotation. I can't think of many teams that wouldn't be thrilled to start a rotation with that trio.
The Phillies still have more than enough pitching (assuming the rotation remains healthy) to secure a playoff berth and make a run at another World Series title. If Oswalt has to miss a significant amount of time, look for Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick to pick up some of the slack until Joe Blanton makes his return in July/August from right elbow inflammation.