Astros starter Jake Odorizzi calls quick hooks ‘bulls—‘ following latest five-inning outing

The Astros dealt a significant blow to the AL West rival Mariners on Tuesday night. Seattle took a two-run lead into the ninth inning, but Alex Bregman swatted a game-tying two-run homer, then Carlos Correa won it with a walk-off double in the 10th (HOU 5, SEA 4). The Mariners were two outs away from being only two games back of the second wild card spot. Instead, they remain three back.

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi started Tuesday’s game for the Astros and pitched well, holding the Mariners to two runs on five hits and no walks in five innings. He struck out three. Odorizzi was pulled after throwing only 66 pitches, however, and he wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t hold back while discussing the quick hook during his postgame zoom with reporters.

“Honestly, I think it’s bulls—,” Odorizzi told reporters, including’s Brian McTaggart, when asked about being pulled after only 66 pitches. “Nobody talked to me [about coming out]. It’s not like I just made my debut yesterday. I’ve been doing this for a while. It’s extremely frustrating.”

During an interview with SportsTalk 790 on Wednesday, Astros GM James Click said Odorizzi reached out to him to discuss his comments following Tuesday’s game. “I understand his frustrations. I think beyond everything else it shows you what a competitor he is, and you want guys like that on your team,” Click said (via the Houston Chronicle‘s Chandler Rome).

Odorizzi has completed five innings in each of his last six starts but he has not been allowed to complete six innings. In those six starts he averaged only 85.2 pitches and 21.8 batters faced. The Astros generally avoid letting Odorizzi go through the lineup a third time and the numbers say that’s wise move:

  • First time through lineup: .199/.278/.331
  • Second time though lineup: .235/.301/.416
  • Third time through lineup: .395/.435/.930

Odorizzi has a similar split throughout his career (though not quite this extreme) and most pitchers are less effective each time through the lineup because the hitters get more looks at them, and also because fatigue sets in. The most notable example of a pitcher not being allowed to face the lineup a third time is Blake Snell in Game 6 of last year’s World Series.

Here’s what Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters about letting Odorizzi face the lineup a third time following Tuesday’s game (via McTaggart):

“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.”

It should be noted this is not a blanket policy. The Astros generally let Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., and Framber Valdez work through the lineup a third time. Rookie Luis Garcia is kept on a shorter leash, though he is averaging 21.4 batters per start compared to Odorizzi’s 19.2. The rookie has a longer leash than the 10-year veteran.

The numbers say avoiding the third trip through the lineup with Odorizzi is a smart move. Now it’s up to the Astros, specifically Baker and Click, to smooth things over and get Odorizzi on board. The Astros are close to a postseason lock at this point and he’ll be needed in some capacity, even if only as a two-times-through-the-lineup guy.

Houston signed Odorizzi, 32, to a two-year contract worth $23.5 million with a player option for a third year in March. The move came soon after a comebacker broke a finger on Valdez’s pitching hand in spring training. 

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