When David Price went down with a triceps injury, mercifully so with the struggles he was enduring, the Rays finally announced over the weekend that prospect Jake Odorizzi would be called up from Triple-A Durham to take his spot in the rotation . As Bill Murray would say, “Go Bulls!” I was fortunate enough to see Odorizzi pitch in Durham earlier this season, throwing 6.2 innings of shutout ball with 8 Ks against AAA Gwinnett.
From what I remember in that outing, he features a mid-to-low 90s fastball and a wipe out breaking ball. Other than that, I couldn’t tell much more from our seats, which were surprisingly tough to get in the Bulls home debut that night. There were free fireworks! Also, the city of Durham loves their Bulls, it is a very nice AAA experience. Anywho, I was stoked that Odorizzi would be pitching right around when my next Pitcher Profile was due out, so I decided to break down his Rays debut (and 3rd career start) at Toronto and see what kind of impact he could have for fantasy owners:
First Inning: Odorizzi’s first pitch is a 93 MPH fastball taken away to Melky Cabrera. Odorizzi isn’t too tall, average size and a little thin, but a very smooth delivery. Cabrera fouls the next one back, then another 93 MPH fastball is high, 2-1. A 91 MPH fastball is again fouled back, that one was right down the pike, then a slider that stayed up and hung a bit on the outside corner at 87 MPH is grounded through third and short for a leadoff single. Next is Jose Bautista who takes a ball, then accidentally foul tips on a check swing, 1-1. An 86 MPH change-up is swung through, 1-2, then another change-up is in the dirt, 2-2. Then a ridiculous curveball at 72 MPH breaks about 18 inches, cutting 11-5 with a huge break that gets Bautista swinging. That was a monster. Odorizzi then pounds the zone at 92 MPH for a strike to Edwin Encarnacion, but then a slider hangs and Encarnacion crushes it for a long single, and early trouble for Odorizzi with the runners on the corners and one out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more curveballs instead of his slider for a bit. Odorizzi with a perfectly placed fastball for strike one to Adam Lind, then change-up in the same spot but dips low, 1-1. Another change dips low, then a 93 MPH fastball is fouled back, 2-2. Then another one of those curveballs, with huge movement, dips too low, count full, with a fastball fouled off, then another, yet another, and the pitch count now at 20. Still full to Lind with a change-up laced foul, then a fastball again fouled back, what a battle at 10 pitches already in this at bat. Out comes catcher Jose Lobaton for a chat, but the next pitch is again fouled back. What’s my word count at now? Again a 93 MPH fastball, this time Lind crushes it, but it’s caught right on the edge of the track, it scores Cabrera, then the throw back to first checking Encarnacion goes into the seats, and its two outs, with a runner at third. Odorizzi starts Brett Lawrie with a fastball on the outer black swung on and missed at 93 MPH, then Lawrie barely taps one foul, 0-2. A change-up is fouled off, then a 94 MPH fasbtall is hit hard into the right center gap, and Lawrie rolls his way to third for a triple. That pitch was high and outside, out of the zone, but Lawrie still could drive it. Surprised he had two 0-2 pitches and didn’t throw that curveball. So it’s two ERs now, and the first pitch to Colby Rasmus is flied lazily to center and the inning is over. Tough start.
Second Inning: After getting a run back, Odorizzi returns to the bump and starts Emilio Bonifacio with a 90 MPH fastball that’s popped up and caught easily by Longoria, one down on one pitch. Odorizzi needed that. The first pitch to Henry Blanco is a fastball for a strike, then misses, then a slider looked perfect on the outer black but is called a ball, 2-1. The next pitch is a fastball punded to left and fair, it’s feilded very well by Fuld and the throw is perfect to second and Blanco looked out by a full step but he’s called safe and it’s a double. Wow, Zobrist tagged him easily, what a blown call! Sam Fuld, if he could hit well enough to play every day, could easily be a gold glover. But it counts for a double, and Odorizzi gets ahead of Munenori Kawasaki 0-1, then is outside, 1-1 with the next one fouled off, 1-2. Odorizzi bounces a breaking ball, 2-2, then a good slider bites too far on the hands at 85 MPH, 3-2. That was a nice pitch, and a very solid addition with the breaking ball. Count full, and the next pitch is a 84 MPH change-up that ran about 8 inches from the outer black to the outside for a strikout swining. Nasty pitch there, and now we’ve seen a nasty change-up, slider, and curveball, along with a heater that’s topped at 94. Odorizzi starts Cabrera with a curveball that gets a silly looking swing from Cabrera, and now Odorizzi looks locked in. Cabrera fouls the next one back, then a fastball is on Cabrera’s chin, 1-2. The next pitch is a change-up, well placed on the hands, but Cabrera bloops it into right and it hops over Matt Joyce who couldn’t field it and it’s another double. Unlucky inning with Blanco scoring who should’ve been out then a blooper. Then the first pitch to Bautista is a slider that Bautista crushes to third, but Longoria is able to field and throw him out to end the inning.
Third Inning: The game now tied at 3, Odorizzi barely misses outside with consecutive sliders, then is in there with a fastball, 2-1 to Encarnacion. Another slider stays in the zone this time, 2-2, then yet another slider is in the dirt way outside and the payoff pitch is another slider rocketed to Longoria at third, but he fields it clean again, one down. Now at 51 pitches, yet another slider is in the zone dipping to the bottom black, 0-1 to Lind. A fastball is inside, then another too low, 2-1. Staying again with the fastball, he’s in the zone 2-2, then a backdoor slider, 86 MPH, bends barely onto the edge of the black and it’s a strikeout swinging, two down. 3 Ks now for Odorizzi. He misses low to Lawrie, then one is popped back, then another, and the 1-2 is a curveball at 73 MPH that starts at the eyes and bent into the top edge of the zone, Lawrie takes a late hack at it and misses, and it’s Odorizzi’s 4th K and a 1-2-3 inning.
Fourth Inning: At 60 pitches, Odorizzi starts Rasmus with a slider for strike one, then a fastball is too high, 1-1. A change-up is low, 2-1, then a fastball on the hands is popped out weakly to first, one down. Odorizzi starts Bonifacio with a change-up for strike one, then a curveball is fouled back, then another fastball on the chin like we saw to Cabrera gets Bonifacio ducking, 1-2. A curveball is low, 2-2, then Odorizzi tries that backdoor slider again but it stays too far outside, full count. The payoff pitch is a fastball and it’s lined pretty hard but right to Desmond Jennings, two down. Blanco watches the first pitch fastball too high, then Odorizzi throws probably his best slider of the day but it drops too low, 2-0. That slider was perfectly placed on the lower half, biting late and hard low. Odorizzi misses again, then zips in a fastball, but the 3-1 is another fastball too far outside for a walk. Odorizzi misses outside with a fastball to Kawasaki showing bunt, then another fastball is hit right to Odorizzi who fields it very cleanly to end the inning.
Fifth Inning: Still a 3-3 game, Odorizzi misses just outside with another backdoor slider to Cabrera, then a fastball is fouled back, 1-1. Odorizzi is low with the hook, 2-1, then a perfectly placed fastball at 89 MPH on the outer lower black makes it 2-2. He then bounces a slider, 3-2, then a fastball at 91 MPH at the elbows gets Cabrera to check swing, but he went just an inch or two too far, 5 Ks. Odorizzi gets ahead of Bautista 0-1 with a slider, then is way outside with a fastball, 1-1. Another slider is pounded foul down the third base line, then a rolling curveball is murdered foul into the left field seast, Bautista too far ahead of it, still 1-2. Another fouled off, then another, then another great curveball, dropping high into the heart of the plate at 72 MPH gets Bautista to swing-and-miss, just like the first inning, 6 Ks, two down. At 90 pitches, this is probably Odorizzi’s last batter, and the 0-1 is hit hard but right to Fuld, inning over. And indeed, Odorizzi’s 2013 debut is over.
Final Line: 5 IP 92 Pitches 5 Hits 1 Walk 6 Ks Gamescore: 56 Gamescore+: 52.4
After a rough first inning, Odorizzi really impressed me. The second inning should’ve had an out at second, then the RBI double was on a bloop hit, so the final four innings were really well pitched. While he was solid, three of the hits he gave up were crushed, and he had a lot of hard hit outs as well, giving him a Gamescore+ below his actual Gamescore, giving me more and more confidence that my new stat can really be useful, especially if Hit FX data becomes commonplace anytime soon for easier calculation.
Flashing four pitches he could throw for strikes, Odorizzi has the potential to be a really solid, professional pitcher. However I don’t see him becoming elite, and none of his scouting reports would really make you convinced otherwise anyway. The fastball topped out at 94, usually sitting 91-93, but was pretty straight and hitters didn’t swing-and-miss on it except maybe 2-3 times. The slider, sometimes very compact more like a cutter, other times featuring a sharper break, looked like his go-to off-speed pitch, the change-up was mentioned as a work in progress but looked MLB-average to maybe slightly above average in this game and was useful, then the curveball which looked above average all game (and probably the wipe out breaking pitch I remembered seeing in Durham) also got some big outs and strikeouts.
I don’t think 10-team leagues need to make any moves right now, but 12-team leagues can use Odorizzi in good matchups, especially at home at pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field. I also think his 4-pitch arsenal with the potential of all pitches to be above average should intrigue dynasty league owners as Odorizzi has the upside to be a 4th-5th SP on even 10-team fantasy teams in a year or two.