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Odorizzi Shows Importance of Warmth

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 18 April 2018 · 352 views

minnesota twins jake odorizzi
Thus far the Minnesota Twins have played just 12 games during the 2018 Major League Baseball season. When they have played, they've been met with suboptimal weather conditions more often than not. Playing in 80 degree heat against the Cleveland Indians down in Puerto Rico, Jake Odorizzi may have unintentionally displayed just how much of an effect the weather has on certain aspects of the game.
Over the course of his career, Odorizzi has hardly been the definition of an efficient pitcher. He's never reached the 200 inning plateau and there are no complete games on his big league resume. For a guy who's walked his fair share of batters over the course of his career, 2017 saw that category swell quite a bit. In his first handful of turns with the Twins, things hadn't slowed down in that category either. Then Jake was given the gift of warmth.

Against the Indians, Odorizzi threw 97 pitches across 5.0 IP and gave up four runs on six hits. Maybe most importantly, he walked just one batter while striking out six. The line looks worse than the outing was. Odorizzi served up a hanging curveball to Francisco Lindor on a 3-2 count at a point in which the ball should've been thrown nowhere near the strike zone. He then was teed off on by Jose Ramirez, and that should've ended his night. Left in a batter too long, Michael Brantley also got a solo shot in off the Twins starter.

Coming off two rocky starts though, Odorizzi had to like where his command was while pitching in Hiram Bithorn stadium. Despite having watched the game, I'm not able to visually break down the performance as the Puerto Rican venue isn't set up with Statcast necessities allowing the transmission of data to Baseball Savant. Even while offering strikes at a 60% clip, the former Rays pitcher found himself avoiding three ball counts, entering just four prior to Lindor's home run. Two strikes were a common theme, and being ahead of hitters was a place he routinely was able to work from.

There's no benefit to Odorizzi, or his new teammate Lance Lynn, suggesting that their slow starts have been due to the weather. While every player has to deal with it, gripping a Major League Baseball is a tough ask from the mound when each pill is practically frozen. Combining that with the inability to get and stay warm throughout an outing makes an already difficult task one that seems like an uphill battle.

Minnesota gave up very little to acquire Odorizzi, but that doesn't change the impact they need him to have on their starting rotation. No matter what the weather looks like, Jake is going to need to improve on a process that's yielded a 5.25 FIP thus far in 2018. Coming off a 5.43 FIP a year ago with an already solid defense behind him, it was going to be more on his pitching ability to turn things around than it would be the other teammates around him. With his back injury supposedly behind him, the hope is that the Twins starter can get back to the days of walking sub-3.0 per nine and pushing the FIP back below 4.00.

With the weather eventually (we hope) heating up here in Minnesota as well as across the country, we should expect to see more good than bad from Odorizzi going forward. The expectation would be that Puerto Rico is providing ideal weather conditions, and starts like the one we saw against the Indians represent more of the norm than the outlier. The flip side to the equation is that as the weather improves, so too do the opportunities for hitters. The ball flies further and they too are able to get in a better rhythm. For now Odorizzi has to keep working on the process, and know that as surrounding factors improve, so to will the results.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz