Mon, Mar 8, 2021
By Jim Vassallo (Veri.bet Writer)
The Houston Astros bolstered their starting rotation for at least the next two seasons with the free-agent signing of righty Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi, who turns 31 on March 27, will join a depleted Astros rotation that has suffered the loss of Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. Pitching prospect Forrest Whitley could also be headed for Tommy John surgery after hopes of battling for a spot on the Major League roster this year.
Verlander will miss at least the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on September 30, 2020. Valdez suffered a fractured left ring finger during his Spring Training debut outing on Tuesday of last week.
Odorizzi will slot into a rotation consisting of Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy, and Christian Javier.
Odorizzi was originally drafted as the 32nd overall pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He made his Major League debut in 2012 with the Kansas City Royals after being traded in a package for Greinke, with whom he will now share a lockerroom.
The deal is reportedly for two years with a player option. Odorizzi only logged 13.2 innings across four starts for the Minnesota Twins in the shortened 2020 season due to multiple injuries. He pitched to an 0-1 record with an inflated 6.59 ERA.
In his third start of the 2020 season, Odorizzi was hit in the side by a line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon when pitching against the Royals. He returned to make a start in September but only lasted 3.2 innings after suffering blisters on his pitching hand. It would be his final appearance of the year and for the Twins.
His best season came in 2019 when he helped anchor a Twins rotation that led the organization to its first division title (AL Central) since 2010. The team won 101 games that season, with Odorizzi going 15-7 across 30 starts with a 3.51 ERA. Odorizzi made his only All-Star team in 2019.
Odorizzi was a stronghold in the Tampa Bay Rays rotation for four seasons after the Royals traded him there in 2013 for James Shields and Wade Davis, who helped Kansas City win its first World Series since 1985 in 2015.
Odorizzi, if healthy, should stabilize a shaky Houston rotation that was once dominant when Verlander toed the rubber every fifth day. There is no timetable for the return of Valdez to the mound for Houston.
For his career, Odorizzi is 62-56 with a 3.92 ERA and 995 strikeouts in 1,042.1 innings in the Major Leagues. Odorizzi also has one career save in the regular season. In his lone postseason start, Odorizzi took the loss after allowing two runs over five innings pitched for Minnesota against the New York Yankees.
The Astros open the 2021 season on April 1 on the road against AL West division rivals, the Oakland Athletics. The deal has not yet been announced by the team and there is no timetable on when Odorizzi will make his Spring Training debut.