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Tampa Bay Rays May Be Seeing Jake Odorizzi Break Out

By David Hill
May 6, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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In his second start back from the disabled list, Jake Odorizzi dominated the Toronto Blue Jays. As he continues his success from the second half of 2016, the Tampa Bay Rays starter may finally be breaking out.

Although the overall numbers may not indicate as such, Jake Odorizzi made a great deal of progress in the 2016 campaign. He was 6-1 in his final 13 outings, posting a 2.69 ERA and a 1.078 WHiP. In his 77 innings, Odorizzi struck out 61 batters while issuing just 19 walks, holding the opposition to a .225/.280/.386 batting line. He certainly appeared to be on the verge of becoming a viable top of the rotation starter for the Tampa Bay Rays.

That progress had slowed down a bit this season. Sidelined due to strained hamstring on April 15, he pitched relatively well in his return on Monday. Yesterday, however, Odorizzi was dominant, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out six in his seven innings of work. With that performance, Odorizzi now has a 2.88 ERA and a 0.760 WHiP, having struck out 20 batters in 25 innings.

The difference? According to Odorizzi, he has been trying to be more unpredictable, while aiming to get ahead in the count. In doing so, and in getting out of those patterns that allowed the opposition to go into attack mode. Now, by pitching backwards and varying his sequences, Odorizzi has been able to keep opponents off balance.

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This change in philosophy is helping Odorizzi reach the potential he displayed in the minors. He had been a consensus top 100 prospect, ranking as high as 45th by MLB.com prior to the 2013 campaign. Before that, in 2010, Baseball Prospectus considered Odorizzi a borderline second starter as a best case scenario.

Right now, Odorizzi is starting to reach that potential. He is establishing himself as that second starter that the Rays need, slotting in nicely behind Chris Archer. As he is entering his prime at 28 years old, and is still under team control through 2020, Odorizzi should be a key piece in the Rays rotation for some time.

Of course, that will depend on his continued development and salary requirements. If this is truly the beginning of the breakout for Odorizzi, he could potentially price himself out of the Rays budget. However, if that happens, the pitcher that the Rays have seen in the past 18 outings would fetch quite a return on the trade market.

Next: Rays bullpen issues contributing to rough start

Jake Odorizzi is having an excellent run for the Tampa Bay Rays. We may well be watching his anticipated breakout.

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