For 5-1/2 seasons the Astros had a Jake on the roster, OF Jake Marisnick also known as JFSF (Jake from State Farm) around this blog. Marisnick was sent off to the Mets for young outfielder Kenedy Corona and reliever Blake Taylor, the second of which immediately yielded benefits to the big club. So, since the Astros did have Jake Elmore in 2013, the 2020 season marked the first time the team was Jake-less since 2012. Well, that just won’t do, so the team went out and signed free agent pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who immediately slots into the spot vacated by Framber Valdez and his broken finger.
Odorizzi is about to turn 31 years old later this month. He is a native of Illinois and was drafted by the Brewers after helping his high school win the state championship. He has two connections to current Astro pitcher Zack Greinke. First, he was part of the package that went from the Brewers to the Royals for Greinke before the 2011 season. Second, Odorizzi who had recently had changed to Greinke’s agent had Zack sit in his 2018 arbitration hearing with…..James Click and the Tampa Bay Rays.
After Odorizzi joined the Royals in the Greinke trade, he made his MLB debut with a 2 game cameo. He was then traded to the Rays in another big-time trade with others for James Shields and Wade Davis. He pitched solidly for the Rays for 5 years and was then traded to the Twins spending the last 3 seasons in Minnesota, which included a so-so year, an All Star year and an injured partial year.
What kind of pitcher can the fans expect Jake Odorizzi to be? Well, not so much in his type of stuff, but more in his results, he appears to be a healthier, more dependable version of Lance McCullers Jr. Here is a bit of a comparison – the first 6 columns are for their careers, the last two are for 2015 thru 2018 just to compare how often they normally took the mound in a season.
|ERA||WHIP||Hits/9 IP||HR/9 IP||BB/9 IP||K/9 IP||Starts/yr*||Innings/yr|
Very similar numbers for the two pitchers, performance-wise with McCullers a bit ahead. It is no surprise that the dependability part of the equation falls heavily on Odorizzi’s side though ironically in 2020 McCullers was the more dependable pitcher. Odorizzi had three stints on the IL in 2020 with a back strain, a chest contusion after getting hit with a line drive and a blister on his middle finger.
While a team can depend on Odorizzi for solid starts, he is not one who tends to go deep into games….similar to LMJ. In his All Star season in 2019, he started 30 games and went at least 5 innings in 25 of them, at least 6 innings in 10 of them and topped out by going exactly 7 innings twice.
Pitch-wise he tends to rely most on his fastball (more than 50% of the time), with his split-change that he learned from Alex Cobb being his strikeout pitch. Of course, fans always watch closely whenever a new pitcher joins pitching coach Brent Strom‘s universe. Can he tweak his location, pitch sequencing, etc. to boost his performance? Even though Orodizzi had three injuries in 2020, none of them was really arm, shoulder, elbow related and frankly, he points more to the stop/start nature of the season for his problems.
So, all that is left is to see how this new Jake does, but it looks like a positive addition to the team.