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Jake Odorizzi Continues to be a Maddening Pitcher

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Apr 4, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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At times, Jake Odorizzi can look untouchable. At other times, the Tampa Bay Rays starter cannot hit his spots and looks like a batting practice pitcher. Yesterday, Odorizzi showed both modes against the Yankees.

When watching Tampa Bay Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, one can see why he was considered one of the top prospects in the game. He has his moments of pure dominance, where he looks as though he can still be that staff ace he was projected to be. Then, in a blink of an eye, Odorizzi can look like he is throwing batting practice, unable to get anyone out.

We saw both pitchers last night as Odorizzi took on the Yankees. He was dominant in the first two innings, spotting his pitches and moving the ball around the zone. Then came the third, where he lost that command. A long single for Aaron Judge preceded a blast from the diminutive Ronald Torreyes, who teed off on the first pitch he saw as Odorizzi left that offering hanging out over the plate.

After a double, Odorizzi again looked like that top of the rotation caliber pitcher. He appeared as though he was going to work out of further trouble, striking out Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird. Odorizzi even got Matt Holliday to hit a lazy fly ball to left that looked as though it would be the third out. At least, until Peter Bourjos lost the ball in the roof and it fell in for an RBI double.

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Odorizzi pitched relatively well from that point on, excluding another mistake that Chase Headley sent over the center field fence for a solo homer in the top of the sixth. Although he stat line will show that he allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings, Odorizzi did perform better than the numbers indicate.

The problem was that third inning. Once again, Odorizzi fell victim to the big inning, where he made a couple of mistakes and was punished. This has been an ongoing issue for the Rays starter in his time in the Majors, and is really the one issue holding him back from fulfilling his promise.

Being able to limit those big innings, and to work through a tough stretch, are what separates the top of the rotation pitchers from middle of the pack starters. Sometimes, it is as simple as learning to trust one’s stuff and not overthinking. It is that next step that Odorizzi needs to learn.

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Jake Odorizzi showed why he is such an intriguing pitcher, even in his fourth full season, last night. He also, at the same time, showed why he can be so maddening at times, making one wonder if he can ever fulfill his promise.

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