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.
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.
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.
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.
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.