It was nothing but blind luck that got Jake Odorizzi to the major leagues in late May. Not only did David Price get hurt but Chris Archer was just getting back from a calf injury, so Odorizzi was basically the Rays’ only option. The Rays weren’t sure what he’d give them as he was still dealing with issues with his fastball command and secondary pitches, but circumstances dictated that he would be the guy. Unsurprisingly given the Rays’ concerns, Odorizz’s first several games in the big leagues did not go very well. He held the Blue Jays to 3 runs in 5 innings in his first start, but he was sent back down after allowing 6 runs in just 4 innings against the Marlins his next time out. He came back up in June and had an entirely forgettable relief appearance, allowing 2 runs in 3.1 innings pitched in a game the Rays lost 10-1. But on August 18th, in the second game of a doubleheader, Odorizzi started against the Boston Red Sox and was excellent, going 5.2 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. He was sent back to the minors soon after, but this time he went back down with confidence. Since that game, everything has changed for Odorizzi. Instead of being the pitcher the Rays had no choice but to put out there, Odorizzi is rapidly becoming a pitcher the Rays are trying to get into games as much as possible.
Odorizzi spot-started on August 29th and allowed 1 run in 5 innings of work against the Angels. Then, after returning to Triple-A to help the Durham Bulls win the Interntional League title, Odorizzi returned for good on September 20th and has been nothing short of incredible. In the 18th inning marathon, Odorizzi went 3.2 shutout innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 2. And on Tuesday, Odorizzi went 3 scoreless innings for his first career save, allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 3. Since that start against the Red Sox, Odorizzi has allowed a grand total of 2 earned runs in 17.2 innings pitched (1.04 ERA), striking out 10 while walking 4. He has turned into a different pitcher, locating his fastball with more precision than ever before. Odorizzi is a starting pitcher without a rotation spot and it’s debatable whether he will make the Rays’ postseason roster. When we know for sure, however, is that Jake Odorizzi has nothing left to prove at Triple-A and will be right there competing for a spot on the Rays’ big league squad in spring training. Jake Odorizzi has gotten everyone’s attention after how well he has pitched, and next season we will beigin to find out just how good a pitcher he can be in the coming years.