'Learning moment' finds Otto on tough night

Rookie yields 7 runs in 3 1/3 IP, but Woodward believes ‘he's gonna be better for it’

September 17th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- Glenn Otto made his MLB debut just two and a half weeks ago at Globe Life Field against the Houston Astros, his hometown team.

It was a storybook debut, as the 25-year-old tossed five scoreless innings in the Rangers’ loss. His second start against the Astros didn’t go quite as well. Otto gave up seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings as Texas fell, 12-1, to Houston on Thursday night at Globe Life Field.

Otto’s rough outing comes after he gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in Oakland in his last start. The rookie righty took the loss in both starts.

Manager Chris Woodward and Otto agreed that it’s been a learning experience for him through four starts in the big leagues.  

“You’re going to go through it,” Woodward said of Otto’s rough couple of outings. “You can ask every pitcher, no matter how good they were. You're gonna have to figure out a way, especially in a game like tonight against a really good lineup, to go out and execute and get through some innings and minimize the damage.”

All seven runs off of Otto came in the top of the fourth inning, when the Astros sent 11 batters to the plate. A three-run homer from Carlos Correa kicked off the scoring for Houston before Otto walked three straight batters and allowed run-scoring hits to Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez to get the early hook.

The home run by Correa snapped Otto’s career-opening streak of 16 innings without allowing a home run.  

Otto, who is the Rangers’ No. 24 prospect per MLB Pipeline, also issued a career-high four walks. It's the most walks issued by a Texas pitcher since Jordan Lyles also gave up four in Oakland on Aug. 8.

Otto said his execution wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be, especially against a team like the Astros.

“I think I wasn't quite getting ahead of as many guys tonight from the get-go,” Otto said. “I was able to fight through during those first three innings, and in that fourth inning it showed a little bit more, obviously, with the walks and leaving some balls over the middle of the plate that they took advantage of.”

Woodward and Otto talked before the game about how home-plate umpire David Rackley had a tight strike zone, and how it might affect Otto’s pitching. Because of that, his fastball command suffered as he tried to nibble on the edges of the zone.

“[The umpire] did exactly what we thought he would do,” Woodward said. “As far as pitching goes, it just puts a lot of pressure on you when you're facing a team like this to not only attack the strike zone but make quality pitches. It kind of exposes you a little bit. I really wanted to see Otto try to fight through [it] and get through that. It's a learning moment.”

Woodward left Otto in after Correa's home run in the fourth, but the rookie created more traffic and wasn't able to navigate the jam, as he walked the eight- and nine-hole batters to flip the lineup. 

Woodward added that he felt Otto’s composure was fine, even if it didn’t reflect on the box score.

“He's not shy in those moments, he wants to be in those moments,” Woodward said. “Getting through that, even though he got [chased], he's gonna be better for it and the next time.”

Dennis Santana ultimately induced a double play to end the inning, but the deficit proved to be too large to overcome. The Astros continued pouring on throughout the game, adding two runs in the sixth and three in the eighth.

The Rangers’ offense stalled once again, though they were able to avoid a shutout with an RBI groundout from Willie Calhoun in the sixth inning, which scored Isiah Kiner-Falefa from third.

“Obviously, we fell behind early on, but we had a couple of opportunities when [the score] was 0-0,” Woodward said. “Once they scored a seven spot, it obviously changed everything. You get a touchdown on the board and it deflates you a little bit. After that, there were some decent at-bats. We just couldn't put much together, obviously.”