On Saturday, Jake Odorizzi had what is turning into a regular outing, pitching well for the first three innings, before falling apart and giving up three runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

This is nothing new for Odorizzi, who has pitched very well early in games and very poorly as the game moves along.

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More specifically, Odorizzi dominates batters the first time he faces them. However, when a batter is facing Odorizzi for the second or third time in the game, their success rate goes way up.

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There has been a lot of speculation as to why Odorizzi struggles. But the simple answer is that he just appears to get tired, which is why he is probably destined to end up in the bullpen.

Via Brooksbaseball.net, take a look at Odorizzi’s release points on his two main pitches, his fastball and his split-finger changeup.

Jake Odorizzi

As the game goes along, Odorizzi’s release point slowly drops, suggesting that he is getting tired and struggling to maintain his mechanics.

The result is that Odorizzi has a harder time “staying on top” of his pitches and he then has trouble keeping his pitches down in the strikezone. Here is the vertical location of his fastball and splitter by inning.

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Keeping the ball down is important for most pitchers. It is even more important for a pitcher whose out-pitch is a change-up.

Odorizzi’s change-up is developing into a nice pitch to the point that his usage of breaking balls has fallen from 24.2% of his pitches in four starts last year to just 15.6% of his pitches this year.

Even James Shields, another pitcher with a dominant change-up, throws 35-40% breaking balls.

At this point, Odorizzi is a 2-pitch pitcher with stamina problems. Unless those both change soon, Odorizzi will be in the bullpen once the rest of the starting pitchers are healthy.

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7 Comments

  1. Dave L says:

    Wade David Syndrome

    Its not fatal --only to his starter career.

    So maybe we traded Wade (sort of)for a younger cheaper version of himself.

    Not the middle of the rotation eventual starter we had hoped but still a live arm that has proven he can get every type of big leaguer out once which is great.

    On the flip side, as I was the last one to jump off the Bedard bandwagon. I may have bailed too soon, as he may be a somewhat servicable temporary starter after all. And then if we can get to meaningful games in September-- having Bedard and Odorizzi in the pen will be a nice luxury.

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  2. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    The numbers he's putting up are reminiscent of those that Sonnanstine used to put up. The BAA rose drastically after the first time through. Hence the reason why many in the past used to call for Sonny to be in the bully all along. Although I think he didn't have stamina issue so much as an efficiency issue it is still a parallel stat line... that being said, Sonny remained a starter in the Rays system despite those numbers.

    Cork,
    Do you think that instead of fighting fatigue Jake could be trying to make unnecessary adjustments instead of sticking with what works, and is actually becoming counterproductive as a result?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Certainly possible and may also be a factor. But that wouldn't likely lead to the release point pattern we are seeing (ie. it might also go back up at some point). Also, if he is making adjustments, it could be because of the fatigue.

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    • Rob says:

      I think Odorizzi is more like Helly than he is Sonny. Sonny topped out between 86-88 mph on his fastball. The other two can regularly hit 91. If Sonny's pitches weren't dancing that day, he was going to get shelled - it didn't take long to see it. I think the fatigue thing makes some sense, but I believe it's mental fatigue and not physical. Hopefully he will learn to pitch with more consistency and continue to spot that fastball so his change up is effective.

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  3. Rob says:

    I made this comment last week, and I recognize I may only be seeing more news about Rays because I follow the team, but another pitcher in Durham, Steve Geltz, got busted for violating the league's drug use policy for a second time - another 50 game suspension. Can someone tell me if the Rays have about the same number of these types of suspensions as other teams? Why do our minor league players always seem to be in the news for the wrong reasons??

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  4. Casey says:

    He has averaged less than 6 innings his entire career minors and majors. Sounds like he just can't pitch deep.

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  5. Geoff Peterson says:

    Looks like he'd make a good middle reliever in the shorter term and maybe eventually a closer if he knows he can just turn it loose. With a few more starters on the way in the minors, this may not be a bad thing and could prolong his career. Otherwise he may bounce around his whole career as a below average starter. But for now, the Rays have no choice but to start him.

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