Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Contemplating Jake Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi on Monday pitched the best game of his major league career to date.

That's a  subjective opinion, based on reasonably objective criteria and a little intuition. Some decades ago Bill James devised a metric he dubbed game score, to which the specifics can be found here.

Odorizzi's game score Monday was 79. He's had one better score, an 84, which also came against the Houston Astros -- but in 2014, when the Astros were bad. (Houston's DH that day was Jason Castro, and the cleanup hitter, Jon Singleton, was hitting .203.)

Whether or not Odorizzi has ever pitched better, he needed to be that good Monday, because today's Astros are a very good collection of hitters and the Twins got only one run themselves off Justin Verlander.

Part of my Monday morning post concerned Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco's meltdown the previous night against the same Houston Astros lineup that Odorizzi dominated. Carrasco held Houston to one hit through six but couldn't get out of the seventh -- third time though the order. Odorizzi did get through the third time Monday night, and Rocco Baldelli pulled him before he had to try a fourth time.

Odorizzi's pitch count was still rather low (86), but that decision was driven by batters faced, not pitches.

Fortunately for my sensibilities, neither Bert Blyleven nor Jack Morris was in the TV booth. Justin Morneau was, and he understands the third-time-though-the-order concept.

Morneau surmised that this was a tough decision for Baldelli. I don't know that it was. He had a rested back of the bullpen, and he knows how his bosses expect him to handle Odorizzi. Had it been a 5-0 game rather than 1-0, maybe he lets Odorizzi keep going. But a one-run lead against this potent lineup, with Odorizzi's established history -- not a chance.

Baldelli had already gotten more out of his starter than he had a right to expect.

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