If the Detroit Tigers decide to go the trade route to get a starting pitcher, Jake Odorizzi is a option to consider for the back end of the rotation.
Recently, I wrote about a pair of lefties to help the Detroit Tigers bullpen in Andrew Chafin and Matt Strahm but the next pair of articles I am going to focus on are trading for pitching help. Jake Odorizzi may sound familiar to Tigers fans as he spent three seasons before signing with the Astros in spring training.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Odorizzi may be the odd man out of the rotation in Houston this season. They pointed out he is owed $5MM this season with a player option for 2023 at $6.5MM that includes a $3.25MM buyout. He wants to remind as a starter but he could be a long reliever.
Why trade for Jake Odorizzi?
As far as pitching arsenal goes, Odorizzi has a four-seam fastball he used 55% of the time in 2021 that produced a run value of -6, which he got a K rate of 24% with the pitch. Batters hit just .236 against it. Here is an example of it in spring training last season against the Nationals as it has some tailing action on it against lefties. He also generates more fly balls with this pitch than any other.
He had the largest average fastball gain of any pitcher between 2018 and 2019. His Twins season in 2019 was perhaps a reason the Astros signed him. That season, he produced a run value of -19 with the four-seamer. You can thank the work of the Rays and Twins, which Dan Martin of Crawfish Boxes highlighted back in March 2021 in how they develop pitching, tinkering to get the max results from any pitcher.
The second most used pitch for Odorizzi in 2021 is his split-finger, which saw a drop off as a put away pitch from 17.2% in 2019 to 11.2% this past season. The first two times in the order, Odorizzi is effective.
It’s the third time through the order that he struggled as the number show, but if you look at the revamped Tigers bullpen last season ability to shorten games, Odorizzi in the fourth or fifth spot who has a history of throwing 150 innings or more could add more stability for one of the youngest rotations in the AL.
His second best pitch is his splitter. In his All-Star season in 2019, he generated a 27.3% whiff rate on the pitch. It is a good contrast to his four-seamer that hits the top of the strike zone. Last season, the pitch had an 88.4 MPH exit velocity, the highest it has been since 2016, when it was 89.5.
There is plenty to work with when it comes to Odorizzi, when he is healthy. If you look at how various pitchers on the pitching staff came around last season maximizing their pitches (Tyler Alexander and his cutter usage), Odorizzi I think, would be an ideal fit. Detroit may revisit signing Wily Peralta but it is unclear at this point. As far what Houston would want, it could be a mid-level prospect.
We shall see what the Tigers will do, but as far as trade candidates go, Jake Odorizzi would be a solid choice.