It could be said that Brett Oberholtzer kind of came out of nowhere. Across 105 games started in his minor league career, he put up a 43-39 record with a 3.83 ERA. His WHIP rested at 1.23 and opponents hit a decent .258 against him. The numbers certainly aren’t bad, but they aren’t eye-popping either. He spent numerous stints in the Houston Astros‘ bullpen, going in between the MLB and Triple-A club, and in 7.1 innings of major league relief, he posted a gaudy 7.36 ERA. It was beginning to look like the Michael Bourn trade to the Atlanta Braves had yielded no results.
But when Oberholtzer stepped in for Erik Bedard following a pregame scratch, something special happened. Oberholtzer threw 7.0 innings of three hit ball, lowering his ERA to 3.77 in one fell swoop. It would never go above 3.00 after that start.
Oberholtzer finished the 2013 season with a 2.24 ERA. His 4-5 record is deceiving, seeing as how his last four starts were losses, despite him scattering a mere seven runs across those starts.
As is the case with most young Astros, 2014 is a big year for Oberholtzer. He holds down the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind fellow breakout-rookie Jarred Cosart, and with the right offseason work and training, those two can pack a powerful one-two punch.
It would be a bit too crazy to go out and say Oberholtzer will throw together a 20 win season, but there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t muster 10-12, maybe even 15 wins given a full year of starts. There are a ton of questions marks surrounding the team already though, so the important stat will obviously be his ERA. Hopefully the young lefty can continue right where he left off and make a habit out of his low 2.00s ERA.