Odorizzi lifted after 66 pitches: 'Frustrating'

September 8th, 2021

HOUSTON -- A frustrated Jake Odorizzi criticized the Astros for removing him from Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Mariners after only five innings and 66 pitches -- the third consecutive start in which the veteran right-hander has been taken out of a game after five innings.

“Honestly, I think it’s [bull],” he said.

Since giving up six earned runs in three innings on Aug. 4 in Los Angeles, Odorizzi has thrown exactly five innings in four of his six following starts. The other two starts have covered 5 1/3 innings and 5 2/3 innings. He’s given up 10 earned runs in 31 innings in those six starts (2.90 ERA).

“I’m glad we won,” he said. “[Alex Bregman] played great. Offense played great. Carlos [Correa] played great. It’s a great win. I’m glad we won, that’s for sure. If not, I’m sure I’d be the subject to blame for only going five innings. I’m glad we won.”

Odorizzi had thrown 88 and 87 pitches in his previous two starts prior to Tuesday, but he was very efficient against the Mariners, including a seven-pitch fourth. He had allowed two singles through four innings and gave up three hits, including a two-run double by J.P. Crawford, in the fifth inning. He was facing Crawford, Seattle’s leadoff hitter, for a third time.

So why did the Astros take him out?

“Nobody talked to me,” Odorizzi said. “It’s not like I just made my debut yesterday. I’ve been doing this for a while. It’s extremely frustrating.”

The Astros signed Odorizzi to a two-year deal with an option in early March after lefty Framber Valdez broke his finger. Because he signed late, he didn’t pitch until April 14, but was put on the injured list with a right pronator strain after posting a 10.13 ERA in three April starts.

Odorizzi was brought along slowly when he returned in late May and even threw four innings in relief on June 15. He worked back-to-back starts of six innings in early July -- he threw a season-high 103 pitches against the Yankees on July 9 -- but hasn’t finished six innings since.

Entering Tuesday, Odorizzi had a .609 opponents’ OPS the first time through the order. That rose to .698 the second time through and 1.359 the third time through, which has clearly played into the Astros’ decision to put a governor on his starts.

“I’ve tried to take him past that point, but it seems like something always happens at that point,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “When things keep recurring at the same time of the game, then it’s time for us and everyone to face the music. That’s maybe that’s how it is, at least for now.

“We don’t have time to experiment too much more during the season. It gets to that point. This is the second or third time in a row when he’s been dealing early and then all of a sudden, something happens. I know he’s not crazy about coming out. We’re not crazy about taking him out. But we’re in a pennant race and have to do what we have to do.”

Odorizzi was happy with how he pitched against the Mariners and said his stuff was “perfectly fine.”

“The hit I gave up in the fifth inning [on the double to Crawford], the ball was off the plate exactly where I wanted to throw it,” he said. “I had good stuff. I had 66 pitches through five innings. I don’t really know what needs to be said more than that. I’m done. I’m not going to say anything more.”