Getting Rid Of The Bad Odor Might Be Izzi
Image courtesy of Marilyn Indahl-USA Today SportsIt’s no secret that the beginning of the 2017 campaign was rough for Mr. Odorizzi. Through the end of July, his ERA was almost 4.50 and batters were getting on base over 30% of the time against him. By season’s end, his FIP was 5.43 and his walk rate jumped from 7.0 percent to 10.1 percent.
He was also allowing more fly balls as he allowed 30 home runs for the first time in his career. His ground ball rate (30.6 percent) was also below league average. His third time through the order was usually when some fatigue would set in. Odorizzi allowed a 7.52 ERA when facing an order for the third time in a game.
Something wasn’t quite right.
Starting last spring training, a back injury bothered him and this followed him throughout a large chunk of the season. This wasn’t the only injury he fought through as a hamstring issue also caused him to miss some time. He’d make two different trips to the DL but his performance on the field also suffered because of the injuries.
As those with back injuries can attest, range of motion can be tough when dealing with a back issue. Scientific research has been conducted to look at pitching biomechanics in relation to injury risk and performance. A lot of things can go wrong from the time a pitcher starts his wind-up until he releases the ball, especially if a pitcher isn’t healthy. He's even admitted that his back ailment impacted his fastball control last year.
After a second stint on the DL, a different version of Odorizzi emerged. During the month of September, he allowed three earned runs over 26.1 IP. He posted a 30 to 9 strikeout to walk rate and opponents hit .116/.198/.221. Even with the rough season, the right-handed pitcher was able to hold lefties to a .205 batting average while only getting on base 28.5% of the time.
Minnesota also has a newly hired Odorizzi expert in the front office. Josh Kalk, the Minnesota Twins new pitching analytics expert, joined the Twins from the Rays organization. One has to think Derek Falvey and Thad Levine relied on Kalk’s insight to make this trade.
According to FanGraphs, Odorizzi has relied heavily on a four-seam fastball high in the zone. Batters started to figure that out in 2017 and it led to a career high 30 home runs allowed in under 150 innings. One adjustment he could make in Minnesota is to use more of the strike zone when throwing his fastball. The article also notes the difference in Odorizzi’s release point. This could be attributed to his injuries in 2017 and it could be an easy fix for Twins coaches.
It might also help to pitch in front of quite possibly the best defensive centerfielder in the game. Plus it helps to have two other strong defenders in the other corner outfield spot.
With a couple of small tweaks, the bad Odor might be Izzi to remove.
What are your thoughts on the new Twins acquisition? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- nclahammer, Dave The Dastardly and less cowbell more neau like this