The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates
Jake Odorizzi kicked off his 2015 campaign with a raucous bang. He set down a pretty solid lineup that had put up 12 runs combined in the previous two games with a final line of 6 2/3 IP, 2 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 Walks, and 7 Strikeouts. This was no fluke. He mixed his pitches, locations, and speeds well to keep both lefties and righties off balance. Let’s take a look starting with his pitch mix:
He threw a wonderful mix of pitches leaning on none of them more than half of the time and using three of them roughly 20% of the time. This is a great way to keep hitters off balance because there are subtle velocity changes between the four-seamer, the cutter, and the splitter, as you can see above, and also because each pitch moves in a different direction. We can see that well here:
Now lets put them all together:
He has a pitch that he can throw to either side of the plate in any count to lefties AND to righties AND he can throw it for a strike. The four seamer rides high allowing him to change eye levels and sneak what isn’t a great fastball (by velocity) by good hitters. He did a fantastic job of staying out of the middle of the plate. When he can throw to the edges of the zone with this mix he’s going to be really good. Another thing that stood out is that his velocity was up slightly:
It’s one blip so this is more of something that we want to monitor, but Odorizzi has reportedly started the season around 15-20 pounds heavier than he has in the past. This was a concentrated effort to have more stamina for the long grind of the season, but perhaps this is helping him tick that velocity up a smidge. It doesn’t take much for a fastball with great movement but eh velocity to come a great pitch by bumping that velo slightly. The encouraging thing is that he was able to maintain that velocity throughout the start:
Focus solely on the peaks here and we see that he mostly maintained velocity throughout the start. It’s rare to see a pitcher work within such a narrowish band of velocity (84-94, ignoring the handful of curves) and have such success, but this goes to show what can happen when you can command those three pitches so well.
Every start won’t be like this for Hodor. He might only have a good feel for two of his primary pitches or he might not have the feel for one meaning his mix gets out of whack, but this was one for the ages and should be the blueprint going forward for the guy. If he can pitch like that night in and night out then it won’t matter who he’s facing because they’ll be chewed up into bits and spat into the ether.
He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. – Socrates