Breaking Down Odo | The Process Report

Breaking Down Odo

Jake Odorizzi is the x-factor of the Rays rotation. He carries a stabilizing presence between Archer, and provides some consistency because Cobb is still adjusting to post-TJS life, Andriese is hit or miss at times, and Snell is still trying to find himself entirely in the big leagues.

I get it. Odorizzi doesn’t flash anything special, in fact, he’s pretty average across the board. However, he simply makes it work. He missed a couple of starts because of a hamstring injury, but since he’s returned he’s worked 12 innings giving up only 2 runs along with 12 strikeouts and only 1 measly walk. For a guy like Jake, working his pitches around along with pristine command is what’s going to make him successful.

Going into his start again the Blue Jays, Odorizzi was able to extend himself to 107 pitches. Jake went 7 innings while giving up 3 hits and a run, he struck out 6 and didn’t walk anyone. He was able to mix up his pitches with plus command as usual, and he took advantage of a solid, yet unlucky Toronto Blue Jays squad.

Aside from a fastball that Ezequiel Carrera rocked out to RCF for a home run one out into the 1st inning, Jake really set the tone from the very beginning.

Odorizzi’s first strikeout came at the expense of struggling Jose Bautista.

Jake straight up attacked him with fastballs in this AB. He fell behind 3-0 but he managed to come right back with a fastball and cutter to run the count full. Odo pretty much told Bautista to hit it if he could, and he swung right through it for strike three. 93 MPH letter high to a guy like Bautista isn’t exactly the best recipe in my mind. He’s aged a bit, but he’s still dangerous. However, Jake’s fastball has some rising action that really gets it right under the hitters swing. It looks nice and meaty right up until it reaches the plate. Odo is also able to get some movement on his fastball, and it’s really nothing to laugh at. Brooks Baseball gives us an incredibly in-depth look at the movement that pitchers are able to generate. Jake comes in with a -5.93 H-Break. The negative for RHP means that it breaks in glove side to RHB. There’s movement there. It’s small, but you can see it. That means the world to a guy like Jake that doesn’t exactly have the most overpowering fastball in the world.

The game is changing. Guys are trying to loft the ball, and that makes low pitches fair game to everyone nowadays. Properly placed fastballs up in the zone will give you the opportunity to screw with hitters right back. It’s practically turning into a golf game out there, and pitchers know that you can start dialing fastballs up, up, and up. Guys will get themselves out.

You can notice how Odorizzi really likes to pepper hitters up with his fastball. Obviously, he understands that his lower velocity fastball will play up higher in the zone. Derek Norris‘ pitch framing skills aside, it still stands to show how the very slight action on his 4-seamer could be enough to also make up for the perceived lack of velocity.

Odorizzi’s main pitch is his splitter, of course. He threw 31 of these on Saturday, and amazingly enough he mainly threw his fastball, cutter, and split. So he’s living off his hard stuff, and his splitter mainly. It’s not hard to see why he has the confidence to throw in continuously.

The 2-2 pitch there to Pillar is a perfect splitter that Jake was able to get to dive right under Pillar’s swing path. Odo is able to disguise this split in such a way that it’s hard for hitters to pick up what the heck is coming. The arm action for the split coming out of stretch is the exact same as when Jake is planning on throwing a fastball.

Odorizzi has held hitters to a .148/.148/.259 slash so far in 2017, and while it’s still early to truly build a strong sample, it’s still an improvement from 2016 where he finished the season with a .268/.298/.441 line. His BABIP this year has sat .182, so there’s obviously room to believe that Odorizzi will fall back towards the norm. However, don’t overlook the fact that his splitter has his most used offspeed pitch since he really began to use it in 2014. Continued use of a pitch should eventually bring some improvement eventually, and this is a pitch that he was able to learn from Alex Cobb not too long ago. It’s a testament to his character, athleticism, and work ethic.

Jake keeps sapping hitters of their power. .111 ISO on the split, along with that .259 slugging% that I mentioned earlier, and a 19 wRC+, it’s a lethal weapon for Odorizzi as he keeps moving forward in ’17. Another measure we can use to gauge the effectiveness of his split is by looking at O-Swing%. League average is right at 29%, and Odorizzi is able to garner an O-Swing% of 41.1%. Hitters are chasing it, and a rate that is way above league average. It’s doing its job, and it’s allowing Odo to survive as a major league pitcher. It was tough to see how Odorizzi would perform as a starter in the Show back in 2013 without a 3rd pitch. He learned this pitch, he brought it into game action almost right, and he’s made himself known as one of the best pitchers on the Rays staff, and is definitely underrated. Good on him.



2 Comments

  1. rb3 wrote:

    I could certainly be mistaken, but it seems to me that it’s really a luxury for a pitcher if not one, but two of your pitches can break in on same-handed batters; it’s a bit unusual even to have one, isn’t it? Throwing pitches that break down and away from same-hand batters is obviously much more common. Developing a variant of the Cobbball does speak highly of King Odo.* He knew he had to add a pitch, so he really went for the value-added approach instead of just fussin’ around with different approaches to, say, the change-up.

    *: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_of_France

    • Carl Gonzalez wrote:

      It definitely is unusual to have more than one. Like you said, down and away from same handed batters is more common. I think we seem to overlook how important it is to have pitches that break down and in on those same handed guys. Doesn’t let hitters extend their arms, and they’re pretty much just all hands at that point. Incredibly useful for pitchers, especially when you have a solid defense behind you since whatever contact is made will generally be pretty weak.

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