Rays Name Jake Odorizzi Fifth Starter | The Process Report

Rays Name Jake Odorizzi Fifth Starter

When the Rays announced Jeremy Hellickson would miss the first few months of the 2014, it was assumed that Jake Odorizzi would take his place. However, instead of handing the rookie the role, the club provided a pair of challengers. Tampa Bay signed veteran lefty Erik Bedard in mid-February and groomed lefty reliever Cesar Ramos to start this spring.

After three weeks of competition, the job officially belongs to Odorizzi. Bedard will look for work outside of the organization while Ramos will return to the bullpen for now.

Odorizzi has spent the month of March working on a new off-speed pitch. Under the guardianship of Alex Cobb, the younger right-hander has introduced a splitter also called a split-change or “the thing.” The results do not matter at this point. What does is Odorizzi’s feel and confidence for the pitch; both of which are believed to be high.

While everyone is hopeful the “Thing” proves to be the answer to the on-going question of “what is Odorizzi’s out pitch?” it will not be the most important offering in his arsenal. The fastball is still the best pitch in baseball, and there is no better heater than one that is commanded. The splitter may become a signature pitch one day; however, to get there Odorizzi is going to need to improve his fastball command. A well-placed fastball will not only help Odorizzi get ahead in counts, and hopefully cut down the length of plate appearances, but also make his other pitches look better organically.

Last season, Odorizzi reached stage three of his career – the I belong here, I can do this phase. He now has two months to prove to it to everyone else.