Last year, the Astros signed Jake Odorizzi to a two-year, $20.25 million contract to have him as one of their starting pitchers and cover the absences of Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. Despite having some remarkable flashes throughout the 2021 campaign, Odorizzi’s stint fell short of being a good one for Houston. For Odo, it’s time to prove to the Astros he can recover his best form.
In simple words, the veteran righty didn’t find consistency at all and couldn’t go long in games. In fact, he only got to the sixth inning twice despite starting in 23 of his 24 appearances. At his best, he was an average pitcher that wasn’t able to be a reliable option for the Astros.
Across 104 2/3 innings, Odorizzi allowed 97 hits and 49 earned runs with 34 walks (2.9 BB/9) and 91 strikeouts (7.8 SO/9). He finished the season with a 4.21 ERA, a 4.48 FIP, and a 1.25 WHIP. As a possible cause for Odorizzi’s shaky performance, he signed late into spring training and had his first preseason appearance on March 24, only six days before the exhibition games were done.
But baseball, as life does, gives second opportunities. And Odorizzi will have his in 2022, especially after we learned about Lance McCullers Jr. will start the upcoming campaign on the injured list with a flexor tendon injury. The Astros’ pitching depth will be tested and Odorizzi could be an important arm at least during the first weeks of the season.
Odorizzi, whose contract includes a player option for 2023, is just 32 years old and is only three years removed from an All-Star season back in 2019 with the Twins. So, for him, there’s a clear possibility of being at least slightly better than he was last year. Using a five-pitch arsenal and to be as dominant as he was in the past, Odorizzi needs to prove his pitches can fool hitters again.
If the Astros want some hope regarding Odorizzi entering 2022, he looked a bit better in the final two months of the 2021 regular season. In his last nine starts, the Illinois native recorded a 3.07 ERA and allowed only three home runs in 41 frames of 14 earned runs. The Astros won six of those nine games.
For him, it’s gonna be a matter of picking up where he left off. Probably, Dusty Baker’s starting rotation to begin the season will have Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Luis García, José Urquidy, and Odorizzi or Cristian Javier. Who earns the final spot might be determined in the final weeks of spring training, but Odorizzi should be in the mix and know it’s his time to come through.