ALDS Takeaways, Part 1: Jake Odorizzi Should Be a Priority
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsThree games should hardly form the basis of a team’s offseason mentality, but the particular way these three games unfolded should crystallize a few things as the Twins look toward 2020. Specifically, this five-part series will explore things that seem both clearer and more important now than they did a week ago, and which should inform the Twins’ plans for getting back to the Division Series, at least, next fall.
Jake Odorizzi Should Be a Priority
For most of baseball history, a pitcher with Odorizzi’s vulnerabilities the third time through an opposing batting order would be significantly less valuable than even a slightly worse pitcher with better durability. In this era, though, Odorizzi is almost the quintessential mid-rotation guy. He might only go five or six innings (as in Game 3, when he allowed two runs to the formidable Yankees lineup in five frames), but he’ll usually leave his bullpen a lead to protect for the balance of the contest.
His performance in Game 3 was typical in every way: he got some swings and misses, stayed mostly off the barrels of opponents’ bats, and forced them to defend the entire strike zone. His adjustments this season deepened his repertoire and made him more well-rounded, even if they didn’t eliminate his fundamental shortcomings.
As he carried the pitching staff during September and turned in the best performance of any Twins hurler against New York, he asserted himself as the first internal decision the club needs to make. The club should extend a qualifying offer to Odorizzi. Too often, teams get cute with those decisions, and treat it like a game of chicken. They only extend the offer if they feel sure the player will reject it, thereby assuring them of the right to collect draft compensation for him.
In this case, Odorizzi might well accept the offer, but that shouldn’t scare Minnesota away from making it. He’ll only be 30 in 2020. He’s a good fit in the clubhouse and for the needs of the team. He’s already proven he can work within the support framework of coaches and analytical staff to maximize his talent. A one-year deal, even for $18 million or so isn’t a bad proposition at all, especially given the Twins’ payroll situation for the coming year. Such a short-term solution would allow them to evaluate their internal options for a more homegrown rotation in 2021 and beyond.
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