The Twins added rotation depth by trading for six-year pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Now away from the AL East, how will he do in 2018?
The Minnesota Twins were the most recent team to benefit from the Tampa Bay Rays selling spree. The team acquired pitcher Jake Odorizzi late Saturday night. With the offense they have, another starting pitcher was their biggest need. How does leaving the AL East fare for Odorizzi?
Odorizzi finished on a down note in in 2017. After 28 starts, he had a 4.14 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 10-8 record. Those aren’t bad numbers, especially in today’s baseball with the number of home runs that were hit.
In 2016, he posted a 3.69 ERA, 1.194 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 10-6 record. I think that is the more likely stat line if you want to make your own projections. The American League Central features a couple of rebuilding teams, giving him an opportunity to bounce back in a big way.
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The only thing Odorizzi will have to do is keep the ball on the ground. Three of the five AL Central parks ranked in the top-10 in home runs. Progressive Field in Cleveland wasn’t that far behind at 17th. He averages about a 1.3 HR/9 in his career. His fly ball rate has increased over the last three seasons. Odorizzi had a 40.6 fly ball rate in 2015 and a 47.3 in 2017.
The good news is that the AL Central doesn’t have the best teams. The Royals said that, since they missed out on Eric Hosmer, the team is staying put with who they have. The White Sox have Jose Abreu…and that’s about the only power threat on their offense. The Tigers need great seasons from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in order to compete. Three out of four good matchups isn’t bad.
When fully healthy, the Twins will have a good rotation, especially in that division. Ervin Santana will miss about the first month of the season. Phil Hughes and Michael Pineda will likely miss the whole 2018 season with thoracic outlet syndrome and Tommy John surgery, respectively.
As of now, Odorizzi is the Twins’ No. 2 starter behind Jose Berrios. He is a sleeper starting pitcher. I have him just outside my top 60. I think he’ll surprise everyone and finish inside the top 50. While that may not sound like a big jump, he’ll be worth the investment.
Odorizzi will have at least 30 starts and 180.0 innings. He should get under a 4.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP this season. If you can get him as your last pick or even as a waiver add, you’ll have an SP5 pitcher on your roster.