Process Change For Odorizzi | The Process Report

Process Change For Odorizzi

Heading into last night’s start against Cleveland, all eyes were on Jake Odorizzi to see what would happen after he flipped the lineup over. His issues doing so have been welldocumented here, so when Michael Bourn tripled in his second plate appearance, it appeared as if Odorizzi was headed down an all too familiar path.

That is, until he pulled a Lee Corso on us and stated, “Not so fast, my friend!” with his performance last night.

Odorizzi needed 40 pitches to turn the Cleveland lineup over, marking the sixth consecutive start he has needed that many pitches to accomplish that task. If not for an error on a routine double-play ball in the first inning by Yunel Escobar, Odorizzi may have been able to accomplish the task closer to 30 pitches than the 40 he used. His 41st pitch to start off Michael Bourn in the top of the third inning was a pitch that has gotten Odorizzi into a lot of these troubles – a first pitch over the heart of the plate.

atbat-summary (1)

The encouraging thing was that it was a first pitch slider. Odorizzi had started Bourn off with a fastball in his first plate appearance and threw him two fastballs and two changeups to strike him out. The first pitch breaking ball hinted at was to come in this outing as Odorizzi got sneaky the rest of the game. He threw 61 pitches after turning the lineup over and just 42 were fastballs and changeups. Previously, his usage of that combination has been 80%, but he had something else in store for Cleveland batters this time around.

He threw first pitch breaking balls to 5 of the 14 batters he faced after turning the lineup over and used his curveball as his changeup. Previously, Odorizzi was leaning heavily on the fastball/changeup combination to lefties and locating them to the outer third of the plate. Last night, Odorizzi threw just six changeups after turning the lineup over and replaced that pitch with a few sliders and his slow breaking ball. The benefits of the approach showed up on his velocity chart from BrooksBaseball:

speed

The 20-mile an hour separation between his fastball and his curveball was a challenge most of the Cleveland batters were not prepared for. In Odorizzi’s previous four contests, he generated just eight swings and misses with his approach. Last night, he generated 10. His fastball generated five swings and misses last night after flipping the lineup over where it had generated just 10 over his previous six efforts. Over his previous six starts, Odorizzi had struck out seven batters after flipping a lineup over; last night he struck out six.  Those results came from the fact the big separation in both velocity and eye level made Odorizzi’s fastball look faster than its true velocity.

He also got away from the habit of working in a small part of the zone and kept batters guessing as to where the next pitch was going to be located. The first image shows Odorizzi’s approach his last time out against the New York Yankees and the second one shows the pitch frequency from last night’s contest.

strike-zone (10)

strike-zone (12)

The Cleveland batters could not just lean out over the plate without impunity and swing with authority as Odorizzi pitched inside enough to keep the batters honest and changed eye levels with the slow curve down and fastballs up.

5 of the 14 batters reached base last night after Odorizzi flipped the lineup over, but that was still a vast improvement over his previous five games when 36 of 61 batters reached base. The element of surprise was on his side last night against Cleveland as this approach was one that he had not previously utilized. The advanced scouts of the Seattle Mariners will have their batters prepared for the new look, and while Seattle is one of the worst teams in the league against righties, it will be up to Odorizzi to execute the pitches and capitalize upon the first success he has had in quite some time.

 



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