ANAHEIM -- Glenn Otto’s path to the Rangers’ rotation in 2023 won’t exactly be an easy one. The front office has been clear with its intentions to add more quality starting pitching to bolster the rotation in the coming years.
But if this last week of the season is the beginning of a 2023 audition, Otto has clearly shown the steps forward he’s taken this year to at least be in consideration.
In Friday’s series-opening matchup with the Angels, Otto tossed six innings in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss, but he once again limited his walks to just one while notching seven strikeouts and surrendering three runs at Angel Stadium.
Two of the three runs were on solo homers from Jo Adell and Luis Rengifo, which interim manager Tony Beasley just described as “mistake pitches.”
“I felt like I got myself into some holes, but also got myself out of some,” Otto said. “At the end of the day, it's about winning. So I gotta go out there and try to do what it takes to win the game, and tonight I wasn't able to do that.”
For the second start in a row, Otto walked just one batter, extending his streak to seven straight starts of two or fewer walks. He’s issued just six walks through six September starts, compared to 16 in five August starts and 12 in six July starts.
Walks have been the biggest issue limiting Otto’s success at the big league level.
“I think it's just a mindset,” Beasley said after Otto’s last start against Cleveland. “Just make up your mind that you're going to attack hitters and force hitters to swing the bat, do something within a certain amount of pitches. And that's kind of what he's been doing, and that's worked out for him.”
Beasley added that Otto’s done a good job of consistently getting ahead in counts and making the hitters beat him instead of vice versa.
Otto agreed, noting that he’s attacking the zone better in recent weeks, but he added that he still feels like he’s falling behind too many batters, which leads to the little mistake pitches that surrendered runs on Friday.
“The difference is that I’m able to get an outcome that’s not a walk, obviously,” Otto said. “But you don't want to give them too good a pitch. Like with [Taylor] Ward there [in the fifth inning] with a 3-0 count, it’s probably better to have a walk in that situation than an RBI double. It's just about being smart. Obviously you don't want walks, but it's not the end all. You don't want to groove a fastball right down the middle 3-0 just to avoid a walk.”
Otto’s recent performance has mirrored his decrease in walks in the second half of the season.
The right-hander has posted a 3.75 ERA over 11 starts since the beginning of August, lowering his season ERA from 5.50 to 4.72.
Beasley said he thinks Otto is trending in the right direction as his first full MLB season comes to a close.
“I think he's much more competitive on the mound,” Beasley said. “He's much more in the strike zone and making hitters do things to beat him. I like what he's been doing as of late.”
“When we look at, you know, a year as a whole, I think progression has been there,” Otto added. “Obviously, I'd like to get to the endpoint tomorrow, but it's not that easy. I have to trust the process and things like that. I like what I'm doing in between starts, I like my routine. I just have to keep pushing and get that one more start to finish strong.”