Otto goes 5 strong: 'Progressing pretty well'

September 24th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- The Rangers still are being conservative when it comes to their young pitchers, in terms of pitch counts. The plan for , who made his fifth MLB start on Thursday night, was to keep him around 80 pitches and, hopefully, have him pitch until at least the fifth inning.

In Texas’ 3-0 loss to the Orioles at Oriole Park, Otto tossed 81 pitches, 56 for strikes -- relying heavily on his four-seam fastball and slider. He completed five innings and fanned seven for the second time this season, matching his career high established during his MLB debut on Aug. 27 against the Astros.

“I'd like to think I'm progressing pretty well,” Otto said. “I'm learning a lot through adversity. These are the best hitters I've ever faced in my life. I want to feel as close to the same physically and mentally as possible, every time I go out, as well. … I think I was able to really slow the game down tonight and focus on each pitch and executing that game plan.”

This type of performance from a young starter is exactly what the club needed. Not only did it earn him another turn in the rotation, but it saved some arms in the bullpen after a long series in New York.

During the series finale against the Yankees on Wednesday, Rangers manager Chris Woodward was forced to burn four arms in the bullpen.

“We needed that one,” Woodward said of Otto’s outing. “Our starting pitching hasn't been going deep, at least for the last week. So it's put a lot of stress on our bullpen. There were a couple of games where we were literally just trying to get through the game. … So we should be good to go for, honestly, the rest of the season.”

Otto held the Orioles to five hits and allowed two runs -- a sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning and a home run by Ryan Mountcastle in the fifth. His skipper was proud of the way the rookie pitched in the tight spot.

“Sometimes actually helps a pitcher when you're just down one [run] because you know that you can't really make mistakes,” said Woodward. “Keeps you locked in. Sometimes, if you get too many runs, guys get a little bit comfortable out there, and they leave some pitches in the middle of the plate.

“I think pitchers would know they kind of like it when it's tight. … I think that it keeps them locked in on executing pitches, and I think Otto obviously did a good job of that today.”

Despite the strong performance from Otto, the two runs he yielded proved to be too much of a deficit for the club to overcome. The Rangers went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

“I was a little bit frustrated, obviously, we should have done a lot better offensively than we did,” said Woodward. “We didn't get a good swing off on a good quality pitch. That's something that we can control, and that's something that we have to do a better job of. We just didn't consistently attack our pitches, and it showed. That’s why we have a zero on the board.”