LOS ANGELES -- One of the reasons the Astros didn’t make a move to acquire a starting pitcher at the Trade Deadline is that they were content with their depth. That’s fair, considering Houston entered Wednesday ranked second in the American League in starters’ ERA and innings pitched.
The Astros have been able to absorb José Urquidy's two stints on the injured list with a sore shoulder because of the emergence of Luis García, a terrific season by Lance McCullers Jr., the return of Framber Valdez and steady veteran Zack Greinke. The recent work of Jake Odorizzi, though, is a growing cause for concern.
Odorizzi’s struggles continued at Dodger Stadium, where he gave up four home runs in three innings of work in the Astros’ 7-5 loss. In his last four starts, he’s allowed eight home runs in 16 1/3 innings, after giving up five homers in 47 1/3 innings in his first 11 games with the Astros.
“It boils down to mechanics," Odorizzi said. “Ever since the All-Star break, my mechanics have been crap. Just makes my fastball flat and that’s not something I have the luxury of having when I know what my strengths are and typically, that’s the opposite of what mine normally does.”
Odorizzi said he’s been struggling with his mechanics for much of the season. He hasn’t been able to find a consistent arm angle, which causes him to lose power on his fastball. As a result, he’s yanking his fastball because he’s opening up too soon. He’s rushing everything to the plate.
“You think you make an adjustment and you get hit around and it doesn’t bode too well for success or confidence and anything,” Odorizzi said. “You’re trying to feel things out and work on it in the game, but that’s when it matters most. It sucks to suck. Pretty much, I got my [butt] kicked today. I’m a grown man. I can admit it and move on from it. That’s about all I can say on today.”
Odorizzi, who was signed by Houston to a two-year, $23.5 million deal in early March after Valdez fractured his finger in the spring, will have the final two months of the season to work it out and prove he can be a viable starter in the playoffs. He’s clearly the Astros’ fifth-best starter at this point.
“We’ve just got to find a way to have him pitch better,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “You can’t be worried about the playoffs right now. You have to find a way to win as many games as you can in order to get into the playoffs. We’ve got some time. We’ll get back to the drawing board and try to find it out.”
The third pitch of the game that was thrown by Odorizzi -- an 83.5 mph slider -- was crushed by Mookie Betts, who sent it 416 feet to straightaway center for a homer. Will Smith hit a three-run homer on a fastball later in the inning to make it 4-1.
“The first one, a down-and-away slider, just Mookie hit it well enough, I guess,” he said. “The one I was frustrated with was the second one. I was trying to go fastball away and it completely ran back over.”
Betts tagged Odorizzi again in the second, this time off a fastball, for a solo homer, and AJ Pollock crushed a fastball for a two-run homer in the third to put the Dodgers up, 7-1. Odorizzi was a mismatch for Max Scherzer, who won his Dodgers debut by holding the Astros to two runs while striking out 10 batters in seven innings.
“We’ve got two months until the end of the season,” Odorizzi said. “It will be a pretty critical two months just to get back to feeling that consistency.”