Although there have been a number of surprises, Jake Odorizzi has been one of the best for the Minnesota Twins. After going 7-10 and posting a 4.49 ERA in 2018, Odorizzi has improved mightily. His 9.4 SO/9 is the highest of his career. Odorizzi had a phenomenal month of May, going 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA and opponent BA of .160.
In July, Odorizzi holds a 9.35 ERA and is allowing a 1.106 OPS in four starts. His last start came at home against the Yankees, where he surrendered nine runs and two homers in four innings. Odorizzi will start tonight against Miami.
The importance of Odorizzi is two-fold. The Twins need a solid second starter, and they need someone to shut down right-handed bats. The Yankees and Astros have Aaron Judge, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Edwin Encarnacion, Luke Voit, and DJ Lemahieu, just to name a bunch. Because Odorizzi is a fly ball pitcher, his .204 BAbip suggests that his outfield is active against righties. On fly balls, his opponents are batting just .165.
To put perspective into this importance, here is how righties are hitting against the Twins starters:
1. Odorizzi- .178/.264/.327 - .591 OPS
2. Gibson- .249/.299/.369 -.668 OPS
3. Berrios- .238/.290/.385 - .675 OPS
4. Perez- .256/.332/.418 - .749 OPS
5. Pineda- .253/.307/.481 - .788 OPS
If Odorizzi can find at least some of his dominance from May, the Twins chances greatly increase. This is true for both the rest of the regular season and the playoffs against either Houston or New York. His arsenal against the right side of the plate could dictate how far this team goes.
There is optimism to be found in his last few starts. His BAbip in the last 28 days is .349, and with Byron Buxton back from his concussion, that number will inevitably decrease.
Tonight is an opportunity for Odorizzi to bounce back against a beatable Marlins lineup. Go Twins!