The Odorizzi Report
We are chronicling Odorizzi’s starts as he works to climb out the statistical abyss he was in when dealing with repeated trips through the lineup. Last time out against Cleveland, Odorizzi surprised the Indians with the utilization of his curveball the second time he faced them and used it as his new changeup. This time out against Seattle, the Mariners’ advance scouts would certainly inform their left-handed batters to be on the lookout for the curveball the second time through. What they were not prepared for is what he would do the first time through.
Before today’s outing, Odorizzi had thrown 87% fastballs and changeups to left-handed batters the first time through the lineup. While he had been successful with the approach the first time through, perhaps the aggressiveness Seattle displayed in the opening game of the series was an eye-opener for Odorizzi. Rather than attack the Mariners with the same approach he had used in his previous seven outings, he threw the left-handed batters in their lineup a curveball, both figuratively and literally.
Of the previous 186 pitches Odorizzi had thrown to left-handed batters the first time through a lineup in 2014, he had used his curveball just six times. Today, he flashed seven curveballs to their left-handed hitters and spread out the success he had in the final half of his previous outing across the entire outing against Seattle. Odorizzi threw 28 breaking balls and just 8 changeups today to complement his 59 fastballs. The mixture of pitches produced 16 swings and misses, 14 of which came on his fastball, several of which were above the strike zone after changing the eye level of the batters with low curveballs.
The effectiveness of the curveball today and its usage over the entire outing can best be summed up by the first pitch curveball Odorizzi threw to Robinson Cano in the first inning of the game. Cano was looking to swing, but did not expect to see what he saw.
Consecutive solid outings is what Odorizzi and the team needed because if the team is to contend later in the season, he will be a critical part of that run. The encouraging aspect of these last two outings is that Odorizzi has lost his predictability and is now challenging batters both with types of pitches and where he is locating them. Batters always adjust, so it will be interesting to watch new wrinkle Odorizzi brings to his next outing against the dangerous lineup of the Oakland Athletics.