In 2013, Brett Oberholtzer was a peasant surprise in an otherwise unpleasant season for Houston Astros fans. After an inauspicious debut, Oberholtzer put together an outstanding rookie campaign.
Called up on April 21st to supply a fresh arm to an exhausted bullpen, Oberholtzer would enter the game in the fifth inning in relief of Erik Bedard. The first batter he faced, Carlos Santana, would welcome Obie to the big leagues by hitting a long homerun to leftfield. Drew Stubbs would add another longball in the next inning, giving Oberholtzer a line of 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, and 0 K in his major league debut.
Obie would be shuttled back to AAA Oklahoma City before making another appearance in the bigs. But he wasn’t discouraged. Brett continued to work hard in the minors and — after another callup and another demotion — would finally get his chance to start a game for the Astros. With Bud Norris traded to Baltimore, the team needed a spot starter. Oberholtzer would get the call. What happened next was epic.
The 6′ 1″, 235 pound left-hander that rarely tops 90 on the radar gun put together a string of four quality starts, including wins against the Orioles, Red Sox, and Angels. After a somewhat shaky outing against the White Sox, Brett spun a 4-hit shutout against Seattle.
Obie would continue to pitch well down the stretch but a lack of offensive support would result in a 4-5 record. Oberholtzer would finish the year with a sparkling 2.76 ERA and only 13 walks in 71 & 2/3 innings pitched.
Although he is far from overpowering, Oberholtzer has consistently held hitters to a low batting average throughout his career. He also has a history of keeping the ball in the park as well as limiting bases on balls. The bottom line: This guy really knows how to pitch!
Oberholtzer uses a combination of off-speed and breaking pitches to make his fastball more effective. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink, the changeup could be his best pitch.
At 24 years of age, Oberholtzer could be a fixture in the Astros starting rotation for years to come. If Brett can even come close to pitching as well as he did last season, the Michael Bourn trade is going to start to look pretty darn good.