Streaming pitchers here at the end of the season can often be a treacherous affair. You scout the pitcher, you check the match-ups, you pore over the data and then you bite your lip, close your eyes and pray that you didn’t make a mistake. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes…it rains. But the bottom line is that the risk involved is usually pretty high because, well, if these guys that you’re sifting through were really that good, they wouldn’t be sitting out on your waiver wire here in mid-September. So why not tap into some new blood? Cast aside the tired, lower-tiered starters with their low-5.00 ERA and grab yourself something young; something fresh and exciting. Get yourself some Jake Odorizzi.
While the Royals have long been out of playoff contention, their minor league club, the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, were tearing it up in the Pacific Coast League and headed for the playoffs. Given the obvious need to infuse some sort of winning mentality, the suits in Kansas City opted to leave their prized youngsters down on the farm to compete for the Triple-A championship rather than bring them up on September 1 and immediately throw them into the fire. But now that the Triple-A playoffs are over (sorry Omaha, but those Reno Aces are so darn tough), it was finally time to starting filling out that expanded big league roster. While most were hoping to see Wil Myers get the call, pitching hounds were champing at the bit, waiting to get Odorizzi into their rotation.
For those not familiar, Odorizzi was the Brewers first round draft choice back in 2007 and was part of the package sent to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal. He’s a 6-foot-2 right-hander with a solid four-pitch arsenal and has a fastball that tops out at roughly 93 or 94 mph. He began the season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he made seven starts and posted a 4-2 record with a 3.32 ERA. He held opposing batters to just a .191 average and had a 47:10 K:BB over 38 innings. With nothing more to prove at that level, he was quickly promoted to Triple-A.
Odorizzi appeared in 19 games (18 starts) for Omaha and finished the regular season with an 11-3 record and a 2.93 ERA. His walk rate jumped a bit and his K/9 went form a nasty 11.13 to an unfortunately more reasonable 7.38 (88 K in 107.1 IP), but he continued to pitch well, holding the opposition to a .254 average with lefties batting just .229 against him. He hit the occasional bump in the road, but for the most part, he never looked over-matched and clearly looked like he was ready to be given a big-league opportunity.
The only issue that Odorizzi seemed to have, which is something a lot of young pitchers go through, was that he ended up with some high pitch counts and didn’t always go as deep into the game as his coaches would have preferred. Often times, he would try too hard to strike a guy out and he got caught up in nibbling the corners. Sometimes he’d get a batter to fish, but the 40 walks in 107.1 innings shows that sometimes he didn’t. His pitching coach at Omaha, Doug Henry, would settle him down and he would be dynamite in his next start, but sometimes he’d fall back into his old habits fairly quickly.
But now Odorizzi is ready to bring his talents to the Show. Originally, the Royals were going to start him off in the bullpen to let him get his feet wet, but later decided to give him a shot against against a very lefty-dominated Cleveland lineup that is batting just .259 and ranks 27th in the league in run production against right-handed pitching. With those numbers and a lack of experience against him, the Tribe might just be easy pickin’s for the young hurler. If you’re looking for someone with a favorable match-up and someone the opposition hasn’t seen yet, then give Odorizzi a try.